Movie Review: Holy Horror in a Public Restroom — “Glorious”

One gimmick is about all your average 79 minute horror movie can manage, but at least that one trick is kind of promising in “Glorious.”

Fresh-off-a-breakup Wes (Ryan Kwanten) polishes off a long drive, a purge and an alcoholic binge with an encounter with a disembodied voice in a stall at a highway rest area. The voice claims to be a deity, and it sounds a lot like J.K. Simmons.

We’ve all seen “Whiplash.” We know that’s a voice you take seriously. Well, take is seriously after a “What’s a god like you doing in a place like this?” joke. Or two.

“The universe has a FAVOR to ask!” The God Simmons (not his real name) booms.

“What is it? Does the universe need help moving?”

Joking aside, Wes finds himself trapped in a toilet in BFE with something supernatural, as well as his own issues — grief, regret, guilt and loneliness among them. He’s not getting out of there without paying a price.

What sounds like a pretty good– if glib — student play (we see four characters, and hear a fifth) plays as a modestly interesting, sometimes artfully gory drama in this Rebekah McKendry film, a story whose allure lessens the longer that one “gimmick” takes to run its course.

If we’re thinking theological, and “Glorious” certainly aims for that, we’ve got Wes trying to get out, maybe hoping to exercise some free will or simply running from whatever demons he brought into that toilet with him.

Some of us can see what’s coming, which isn’t a deal-breaker as far as making “Glorious” watchable. What’s required here is that the characters keep us engaged until the payoff or twist or grim or happy resolution. What would be nice is if we feel something/anything for any given character.

I have to say this chatty, pseudo-existential screenplay didn’t get me there, with no performance —- Sylvia Grace Crim plays the girlfriend, seen in flashbacks — pulling me in and only one character coming close to being someone I could identify with. And he used to play Peter Parker’s boss.

Yeah, critics have “god complexes.” So sue me. But “Glorious?” I could take it or leave it.

Rating: unrated, graphic violence, profanity, alcohol abuse

Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Sylvia Grace Crim, Tordy Clark, André Lamar and the voice of J.K. Simmons.

Credits: Directed by Rebekah McKendry, scripted by Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry and Todd Rigney. A Shudder (ug. 18) release.

Running time: 1:19

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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