Glorious

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How many movies have taken place entirely in a public restroom? Glorious is the only one I can think of, and yes, the title does refer to a glory hole. Despite how it might sound, this isn't a raunchy comedy, it's a horror flick – and an extremely clever one, at that. Stylishly directed by Rebekah McKendry from a smart screenplay by Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry, and Todd Rigney, the film is a must-see for viewers looking for something uniquely outrageous and unsettling.

Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is heartbroken after a breakup with his girlfriend Brenda (Sylvia Grace Crim). He pulls over at a roadside rest stop to have a mini-breakdown. Then he enters the restroom, where a mysterious figure begins speaking to him from inside a stall with an disturbing drawing on the side wall and a glory hole right in the middle. I won't tell you about that figure, except to say that the great J.K. Simmons provides his voice. Wes quickly realizes that he's trapped inside the restroom and won't be leaving until the other individual is done with him.

Writing about Glorious without spoilers is difficult. What you need to know is that it's fascinating to learn who's inside that stall. He puts pressure on Wes to do something very specific, suggesting immense consequences outside the bathroom if he fails to comply. As the story goes on, we learn more about Wes's failed relationship, as well as who he is as a person. That changes our perception of him and his bizarre predicament in general. Everything boils down to a difficult choice that must be made. The film encourages us to ponder what decision we'd make in Wes's shoes.

You might think a one-location picture like this would grow tiresome, yet Glorious never does. Verbal exchanges between the two main characters are provocative and often darkly funny. In fact, a streak of morbid humor runs throughout, balancing out the occasionally gruesome events that take place inside that restroom. Several moments earn big laughs because of how the silliness of the humor contradicts the grimness of the plot's core dilemma. Going back and forth, squirming one minute and giggling the next, is a treat, especially since McKendry smoothly see-saws those qualities.

Terrific performances glue it all together. Ryan Kwanten potently conveys the inner turmoil Wes endures. Portraying an existential crisis as severe as the one here can't be easy, since the risk of teetering into parody is great. The actor avoids that, hitting the right note of desperation with a comedic edge. J.K. Simmons, although never seen onscreen, is a delight as the stall-bound figure. He delivers lines in a very calm, straightforward, witty manner that's purposefully ironic when measured against the ominous things his character says. Impending doom has rarely been vocalized so amusingly.

Glorious could have showed a little more of the Wes/Brenda relationship, seen in flashbacks, just to allow the finale to hit with maximum impact. That said, plenty of demented fun can be found here. The filmmakers obviously set out to tell a totally original tale. They've succeeded. You may not see a more wonderfully crazy horror flick this year.


out of four

Glorious is unrated, but contains strong bloody violence, and language. The running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes.