Director – Rebekah McKendry, Screenplay – Joshua Hull & David Ian McKendry, Story – Todd Rigney, Producers – Christian Armogida, Morgan Peter Brown, Jason Scott Goldberg, Bob Portal, Inderpal Singh & Joe Wicker, Photography – David Matthews, Music – Jake Hull, Visual Effects Supervisor – Jason R. Miller, Visual Effects – BossK VFX. Makeup Effects – Russell FX (Designers – Josh Russell & Sierra Russell). Production Company – Alliance Media Partners/Fallback Plan Productions/Eyevox Entertainment/Citizen Skull Productions.
Ryan Kwanten (Wes), J.K. Simmons (Ghat/Ghatanothoa), Sylvia Grace Crim (Brenda), Andrew Lamar (Gary C), Tordy Clark (Sharon the Trucker)
Wes is driving to get away from trauma in his life, while living in his car. He pulls over at a rest stop but starts drinking during which he burns all the mementoes of his life. He wakes up inside the rest stop bathroom in his shirt, socks and underwear. As he cleans up, someone begins talking from the next stall. The person claims to be Ghatanothoa, a very ancient deity. Wes then finds he is unable to leave the bathroom. The voice of Ghat continues talking to him, probing Wes’s memories and asking Wes to do one thing in return for his freedom, something that will prevent Ghat’s creator coming and destroying the world.
Glorious was the third film for Rebekah McKendry who had previously co-directed the Christmas horror anthology All the Creatures Were Stirring (2018) and solo directed Psycho Granny (2019) and before that several short horror films. All of these have been co-written with her husband David Ian McKendry
Glorious has one of the most off-the-wall (literally) premise of any film seen in recent memory – Ryan Kwanten goes on a drinking bender, wakes up in a rest stop bathroom stall after having burned all but his shirt and underwear, whereupon he finds that the person in the cubicle next to him speaking through the glory hole is actually an ancient Deity which proceeds to probe into his past and wants Ryan’s aid in helping prevent the destruction of the world.
We’ve seen variants on this in the Imprisonment Thriller. Of recent, there have been works that take a regular Imprisonment Thriller like Phone Booth (2002) or Buried (2010) and spin them in a surreal manner. Examples might include Await Further Instructions (2018) about a family trapped in a house and being given increasingly more extreme orders from their tv set. Or Vivarium (2019) in which a couple end up in a suburb and find they are unable to leave and are then forced to raise a strangely alien child. Glorious is kind of an imprisonment thriller added to Lovecraftian Themes – that is if you can imagine Cthulhu inhabiting a bathroom stall and having gained a soft spot for humanity, while speaking with the unmistakeable voice of J.K. Simmons.
It often feels as though Glorious is something that would be more suited to being a short film or else an episode of a half-hour show like The Twilight Zone (1959-63) where the premise feels extruded trying to fill the film’s 79 minutes. Nevertheless, Rebekah McKendy does a fair job of containing the film to a single set with only a few introductory scenes set outside the bathroom and a few other flashbacks. Things are pushed to a moderate level of gore and some decent creature effects as Ghat starts to manifest.
All of which brings us to the ending. [PLOT SPOILERS] Here it appears that the entire experience was a long dark night of the soul for Ryan Kwanten, That there was really nothing to do with Elder Gods and the imminent End of the World but that it was all some process of judgement to make him confront the fact that he was really a serial killer. (Although whether this is the case or not, we can’t entirely be sure as the only evidence we have is some fairly tame photos of women who appear to be in discomfort or pain but we can’t exactly say what is happening). The purpose of everything appears to be to make Ryan Kwanten confront the truth about the fugue state he is in where he seems to have blanked out memory of killing his wife and other victims, before he is duly damned. It’s a not entirely satisfying ending that seems premised around some improbably psychology.