[#Fantasia 2022 Review] JK Simmons is a mysterious stranger on the other side of the gloryhole in Cosmic Horror GLORIOUS
Going through the descriptions of the films screened at this year’s edition of the Fantasia Festival, I found that the editorial staff of Glorious was incredibly vague. Then a 15 second teaser came out a few weeks later, and I was even more confused as to what this movie could possibly be. Nonetheless, I still attended the world premiere and understood why things were being kept under wraps. And now I must inform you, dear reader, that I, too, must be secretive in my review so as not to reveal a major plot point that would ruin the mystique surrounding this upcoming Shudder Original. But here’s what I can tell you…
Glorious is directed by Rebekah McKendry, who you may know as co-host of the Fangoria Colors of the Dark podcast. She also directed the thriller Lifetime psychopathic grandmaand co-directed the Christmas horror anthology All the creatures stirred with her husband David Ian McKendry, who wrote the screenplay for Glorious with Joshua Hall (Billot) and Todd Rigney (Found).
And now for a super vague summary! We s (Ryan Kwanten, true blood) hit rock bottom after a bad breakup. His solution is to get drunk in a park and burn anything that reminds him of his ex. Brenda (Sylvia Grace Crim, The hunt). The next day he wakes up with a terrible hangover, no pants and an urgent need to vomit. He runs to the bathroom at the nearest rest stop to get rid of his demons, but as We s drives the china bus, so to speak, a friendly but ominous voice (courtesy of Oscar-winning actor JK Simmons, Whiplash) rises from the cabin next to his.
the stranger across the gloryhole from the booth tries to strike up a casual conversation with We s. Although a little discouraged by the situation, We s goes hand in hand with small talk, thinking it’s better to just sit still in the bathroom for a while instead of walking around outside without pants.
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But the conversation takes a bizarre turn when the mysterious character reveals that it was not a chance meeting. He needs a favor from We s and that the fabric of the entire universe depends on it. Denying the stranger proves difficult when We s is unable to leave the bathroom. What follows is the outcome of We s‘ spirit as he is trapped in this strange place with this strange person until he grants them this strange request.
The filmmakers had to be incredibly creative during the pandemic, making the most of a small cast in one location and a small crew behind the camera. Glorious is probably the best thing to come out of these minimalist films. Most of the action takes place in a seedy bathroom, except for a few fleshed out scenes by West past. I imagine JK Simmons recorded his part of the dialogue in a sound booth miles from set, but his voice has such a commanding presence that he always felt like he was hiding behind that bathroom stall as Ryan Kwanten paced, arguing at the psychedelic graffiti scrawled on the wall between him and the stranger.
Glorious doesn’t feel small, thanks to a script that builds a vast and terrifying universe beyond our own. I found myself getting lost in the hypnotic sequences, but every once in a while the wild roller coaster ride would come to a halt for Simmons to deliver a jaw-dropping punchline. A reminder to the public how unusual and ridiculous the scenario is.
The term “Lovecraftian” made a lot of headlines promoting this film. Honestly, I haven’t read enough of HP Lovecraft to confirm or deny, but another possible inspiration for Glorious comes from a filmmaker known for adapting the works of Lovecraft – the great Stuart Gordon. The same pink-purple glow from Gordon’s From beyond lights up wet toilets. The special effects are otherworldly, and you don’t know exactly what you’re looking at as the KY jelly slicked talons and tentacles step out of the shadows (which doesn’t really matter since they are included in the teaser and poster).
In the cosmic horror subgenre, Glorious must be the clumsiest I’ve ever known. It also gets brownie points for the sound design of the squelching and low-rumble bass emanating from other dimensions, as well as the use of a fast, searing song by the chaotic hardcore band Deaf Club during We s‘ bender.
A dirty public bathroom is probably the last place anyone would want to spend 80 minutes of their life, but there’s enough action in Glorious to win over even the most skeptical viewers. Thankfully, its humor never narrows to the scatological, which is saying a lot for a movie that’s mostly centered around toilets. Although the premise seems deeply odd, the hype surrounding Glorious definitely worth believing.
At Rebekah McKendry’s Glorious had its world premiere at the 26th Annual Fantasia Film Festival and will air on Shudder on August 18. What would you do if JK Simmons started talking to you on the other side of a gloryhole? Let us know about Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Heck, follow Nightmare on Film Street on TikTok for more horror movie recommendations while you’re at it.
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