Review by Sean Boelman
Some of the best indie horror movies are those that are obviously low-budget, but don’t really show it, instead doing a great job of feeling confined yet expansive. Rebekah McKendry’s Glorious is a perfect example of that type of film, telling a story that feels epic despite taking place almost entirely in a bathroom, and it’s a ton of fun as a result.
The movie follows a man who gets trapped in a remote rest area bathroom in the stall next to a mysterious figure whose true nature may not be what it seems. The film plays out almost exactly as one would expect — and its premise is very reminiscent of other movies — but it’s executed well enough to work nevertheless.
It’s a nice little horror movie with a bit of a biting sense of humor. With a runtime of only seventy-nine minutes, it breezes by. There’s a lot of expositional dialogue, but it’s written wittily enough that it doesn’t feel particularly burdensome. All in all, it’s just a fun midnight movie, and it’s at its best when it’s just silly and gory.
The film tries to say some profound things, but it alternates between being annoyingly overt and frustratingly ambiguous. When it comes down to it, the movie simply isn’t as smart as it wants to think it is. However, if you’re willing to accept it for what it actually is — a lean, sub-eighty-minute horror flick, it’s more than entertaining enough to work.
Both of the characters have rather shallow motivations, and that is the only thing that really threatens to derail the film. The protagonist is ultimately just pretty plain — approachable but not entirely distinctive. Although his foil is pretty underdeveloped too, that character at least has more of a personality.
Ryan Kwanten carries the movie pretty well, but the true highlight is J.K. Simmons’s voice performance. Time and time again, Simmons continues to prove to audiences that he is one of the most talented actors working today. Here, he pulls off a role that literally emanates power while still being strangely charming.
McKendry makes the most out of the confined location, creating a real sense of griminess and claustrophobia within the bathroom set in which a majority of the movie takes place. The CGI and gore are minimal but effective when used, and the use of color does a lot of heavy lifting with the atmosphere.
Glorious is a pretty perfect match for what Fantasia is — a campy, fun genre film that isn’t particularly taxing. It’s definitely not perfect, but for what it is, it’s an enjoyable time and horror cinephiles are going to love it when it drops on Shudder next month.
Glorious screened at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs July 13 through August 3.