‘Glorious’ Review: The God Behind the Glory Hole
By Daniel Rester
Glorious is an original and stylish horror film from Rebekah McKendry. She has a background in horror by having worked for both Fangoria and Blumhouse; she is also a professor at USC. While Glorious is a well-made Lovecraftian project that showcases McKendry’s vision, it’s also a simple idea stretched thin. It could have been a great 40-minute short, but at 79 minutes it starts to feel tedious and repetitive.
Ryan Kwanten, from Dead Silence (2007) and True Blood (2008-14), plays Wes. He’s having some trouble with his girlfriend and has his car packed with his things. He stops at a rest area and gets extremely drunk, burning some of his stuff in the process. Hungover the next day, Wes goes into the bathroom to vomit.
Wes soon discovers he is stuck in the bathroom. From a closed stall comes a voice from something claiming to be the god Ghatanothoa (voiced by J.K. Simmons). It says it needs Wes’ help, but Wes is not allowed to open the stall door or try to sneak a peek at Ghat through the glory hole. Ghat says that Wes needs to assist him because the fate of the universe is at hand.
Glorious is mostly a two-hander that takes place in that bathroom, with the unseen Ghat and Wes arguing over Wes’ choices and the cosmic possibilities of Ghat’s world. The sparring between the two can often be fast and funny. Kwanten puts a lot of emotion and physicality into his performance, while Simmons does a lot with just the range of his voice by alternating between being droll and authoritative.
McKendry also uses the space of the bathroom creatively. The design around the glory hole is both creepy and amusing at once; it has a human body, tentacles where the head should be, and three boobs that have eyes. Ghat’s backstory also unfolds through animated drawings on the walls. The camera is placed in seemingly every way available in the tight room, while shades of blue and purple lighting add to the cosmic milieu.
Despite the efforts on the acting and design fronts, Glorious never feels like more than oddball fluff. Ghat beats around the bush for a long time before finally telling Wes what he must do. When that reveal comes, it elicits a “that’s it?” response. It’s like a big shaggy dog joke from screenwriters Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry, and Todd Rigney.
Another issue is that Wes is basically only built on his relationship with his girlfriend through flashbacks. Other than that we don’t know much about him or really care about him. The script does attempt to throw a twist onto the character near the conclusion, but it feels unearned and comes as too little, too late.
For the first thirty minutes or so, Glorious feels fresh and unique. But then it shows it isn’t really going anywhere until Wes agrees to help Ghat, and that comes after many similar arguments. McKendry certainly has skill as a director, and her two lead actors are game for the gimmicky little project, but Glorious wears out its welcome and doesn’t add up to much in the end.
Available on Shudder now.
My Grade: 5.5/10 (letter grade equivalent: C+)
Running Time: 1h 19min