Dir. Rebekah McKendry (2022)
A man hears the voice of God from the other side of a rest stop gloryhole, informing him that he alone can save the world. The only question is, which god?
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Wes (Ryan Kwanten, True Blood) has recently gone through a devastating breakup, and he is slowly trying to find himself in the absence of his loved ones. He travels the roads with a mysterious box and a teddy bear, taking time to stop at a rest stop on the side of the road. There, he parties, drinking himself to oblivion beside a makeshift fire; this is why you don’t stop at rest stops, because people do this shit. After waking up to vomit, he finds himself stuck in the rest stop bathroom, where he hears a voice (JK Simmons, J Jonah Jameson) from the other side of a gloryhole carved into the stall. He finds that he must satisfy the corporal form of an elder god to save all life in the universe.
Built straight from the mythology behind Lovecraft’s most beloved pantheon, Glorious is an otherworldly tale that is narrated by the yellow M&M himself, JK Simmons. It’s bizarre, dreamlike, and a fantastic exploration of the relationship between man and whatever gods exist beyond the edges of the universe. It’s also darkly comedic at times, riffing off of the ultimate lack of understanding about things that are larger than us, things that we can’t grasp even in the farthest reaches of our minds. That is the mystique upon which Lovecraftian stories prey, that curiosity about a mystery which we cannot hope to understand. Glorious tries to reveal some of this mystery, telling a modern story about an ancient god that somehow manages to resonate with whatever audience happens upon it.
This can largely be credited to Simmons himself, who manages to give the god a personality that is hugely entertaining. While Kwanten doesn’t do a bad job either, Simmons makes the movie with just a voice role, which is pretty damn impressive. The movie only has one location for the majority of its runtime, but director Rebekah McKendry expertly weaves a tale of isolation and madness, blending the dark comedy perfectly with fear and mystery. The creature effects are outstanding, showing just enough to reveal what we’re supposed to be afraid of without becoming corny or ridiculous.
Stories within the Lovecraft universe are hit or miss, and while there are some people who find them generally compelling, I am not one of those people. The cosmic horror genre is tough to really quantify, because there are so many bad movies that draw inspiration from Lovecraft’s stories. This is a good one, though, one that teases the larger mythos of gods and humanity while keeping the story tight-paced and personal. It’s well-done and interesting, and it’s slow burn done right. We never feel like we’re missing out on a faster story because Simmons is just so goddamn delightful. By the time the story has reached its conclusion, we’ve dealt with love, loss, sacrifice, and the nature of god and man.
Who this movie is for: Lovecraft fans, Cosmic horror lovers, Gloryhole aficionados
Bottom line: Excellent little film with some truly intriguing concepts, Glorious is way better than I expected it to be and absolutely worth a watch. JK Simmons is fantastic as the voice of an elder god, stealing the show even over those that appear on-screen. The creature effects and gore are excellent, and it’s a seriously well-told story. Definitely looking forward to watching that ending again.