Brant Lewis says Rebekah McKendry’s Glorious is a wonderfully delirious rollercoaster.
Breakups can be challenging, but can they be as bad as being trapped in a bathroom with a mysterious voice coming from a nearby stall? Directed by Rebekah McKendry and written by Todd Rigney, Joshua Hull, and David Ian McKendry, Glorious provides a unique take on cosmic horror while effectively utilizing a single location while remaining captivating. The film feels like a perfect future midnight cult film in the making due to its excessively gory nature while embracing a unique sense of dark humor. It is easily one of the best exclusives premiering on Shudder.
Suffering from a terrible breakup, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) stops at an isolated rest stop while traveling. He then decides to get drunk and burn his possessions. The following day, he wakes up in the bathroom hungover with no pants and promptly throws up in the toilet. While purging his stomach, an unknown voice (J.K. Simmons) in the next stall starts a conversation with him. Initially, Wes believes the person on the toilet to be a friendly guy before realizing the horrible truth when Wes discovers that he is trapped in the bathroom with something that might not be human.
Cosmic horror lies at the film's center as Wes slowly discovers how little his breakup truly matters to the universe and the darker, more horrific beings that exist outside our fragile human lives. His existence is that of a plaything as he is psychologically and physically toyed by the unknown entity. The brutal nature of his situation is that much worse due to Wes's hungover state.
McKendry skillfully balances the horror and humor within the story. The film shifts fluidly from the comedy of Wes' clueless response to his situation to the absolute terror of his experience. Even the setup initially feels like a joke but becomes much more sinister as the film continues. Wes becomes a human ragdoll at the whims of the voice. The audience quickly moves from laughter at his being the butt of a cosmic joke to fearing for his life. Tonal changes can be pretty tricky, but McKendry does it with ease.
Glorious exists as a two-hander placed solely on Kwanten and Simmons. More impressively is the chemistry between the two actors despite one being a voice. Simmons' distinct and iconic vocals help create a three-dimensional character despite never being seen while conveying the emotional changes. Kwanten sells Wes as a regular joe who had his heart broken and is trying to escape an impossible situation. Despite the film primarily focusing on these two characters, it never feels dull or stagnant due to their outstanding performances.
The special effects blew me away. Impressively, the practical and visual special effects seamlessly blend, helping to draw us into the weird world we’re transported to with Wes. Although the voice manifests only once, its glances sell its terrifying and unimaginable figure. The purple energy force field surrounding the restroom is reminiscent of neon horror films like Color Out of Space (2019) and sells its otherworldly aesthetic.
Lastly, McKendry commits to the gore and filth of the location and the horror. Blood, ooze, and other fluids are never far from reach. Wes receives a blood shower that could rival the one in Evil Dead (2013). The grotesque bathroom feels like a nightmare. The fleshy bits and tentacles of the being got under my skin. It felt alien and perverse compared to Simmons' voice. Once the film’s finale rolls around, Wes is covered in every type of fluid imaginable for a horror film. He’s been through literal hell and has the slimy evidence to prove it. The film will satisfy those looking for a new horror comedy that relishes its more disgusting elements.
Glorious premieres exclusively on Shudder on August 18, 2022.