Shudder Streaming: Glorious (2022) -Reviewed

A church.  A burning bush.  A slice of toast.  Over the ages, people have claimed to see visages of godlike deities in a vast slew of different places and objects.  Nevertheless, there’s still some uncharted territory in terms of where and how omnipotent beings show up to humans.  Rebekah McKendry takes this phenomenon to absurd heights in the horror film Glorious, and it places the film’s blobby Lovecraftian demigod in a men’s restroom, of all places.


Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is having a rough day.  He had a nasty breakup with his girlfriend, and is having a rage-filled cross-country trip to clear his head and escape his past.  Tired, hungry, and broken, he decides to swing by a rest stop along the way to decompress.  Unfortunately for him, his situation goes from bad to worse.  After setting an impromptu fire to catch everything ex-related ablaze at this remote location, he decides to empty out in the restroom.  Despite the building seeming practically abandoned, he soon learns that he’s not the only one in the restroom.  Much to his surprise, he hears a voice in the stall next to him, and he begins to speak to his restroom mate through a graffiti-surrounded glory hole.  His new friend Ghat (J.K. Simmons) soon makes some unusual claims:  he’s an inhuman demigod, and Wes has the power to aid this entity in preventing earth’s mass destruction.  Despite Wes’s initial skepticism, he soon learns there’s more credibility to this mysterious new acquaintance than expected.


With its small cast, singular focus, twist near the ending, and much of the horror lying in what is unseen (until it decides to gleefully embrace some gore, that is), Glorious has an essence about it that feels like a piece from an anthology series like Twilight Zone.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with this — the editing and the pacing of the film benefit from this approach — it often seems like there’s not enough holding the feature-length piece together plotwise.  It usually revels in its simplicity, but other times, it feels a bit too simplistic and padded by awkward dialogue seemingly written to fill space.

This awkwardness is in part due to an inconsistency in tone that persists throughout the film.  Glorious has a somewhat absurd scenario, and interjects humorous moments to acknowledge this throughout, but they don’t seem properly dispersed in conjunction with more serious moments.  Watching Wes feel tormented by his past and present situations grows old after a while, and oftentimes the humor surrounding this drudgery feels forced.  The film would have benefitted from acting less shy about its levity, focusing less on the parts that seem more plausible.


One of the reasons for the tone seeming off-kilter is that the character of Wes feels miscast at times.  Ryan Kwanten simply doesn’t have the presence to completely carry what is essentially a one actor (plus one voice actor) film.  His breakdown at the beginning feels especially stilted, and while it gets better once the plot progresses, J.K. Simmons constantly outacts him with his voice alone.  Had they not cast such a talented actor like Simmons as Ghat, this film would not have succeeded nearly as well as it does.

Glorious is a boldly original film that is a fun watch at times, but it isn’t “glorious” either.  For horror audiences who like a healthy serving of simplistic ridiculousness with their horror and can forgive a few missteps, check it out on Shudder August 18th.

—Andrea Riley