A simple request, a big reward and a glory hole.
By Rob Hunter Published 22 July 2022
The 26th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 14 to August 3, and you can catch all of our coverage here.
Many films have memorable scenes taking place in bathrooms (The Warriors1979; the brilliant1980; the end of the world2013), but how many movies can you imagine shooting almost entirely in a bathroom? It’s a nice little list that probably starts with Blocked (2013) and ends with We have to do something (2021), but now a third contestant has entered the tiled thunder – and it’s glorious. Not really, Glorious pits a troubled young man against the cosmic horrors unleashed by a rest stop glory hole, and the result is a wildly entertaining descent into comedy, horror, and public restroom etiquette.
We s (Ryan Kwanten) is having a rough few days, and the road trip he’s doing doesn’t seem to be helping him. He misses his girlfriend, and while the details of their breakup are initially unclear, it’s obvious he’s in distress. A rest break sees him burn his things – his pants go up in flames, but a teddy bear doll is spared – and get drunk, but he is surprised the next morning when a visit to the bathroom reveals someone ‘other (JK Simmons) in the cabin next to him. The mysterious, invisible man appears to be no man at all, and soon Wes finds himself caught up in a conversation that brings him to the brink of cosmic horror.
Glorious sets up a simple but nonsensical concept, then pretty much nails down the execution with only the smallest of bumps along the way. The film offers great laughs throughout, coming from both the banter between Wes and the voice and the physical antics that take place within the walls of the bathroom. The more serious beats get the impact they deserve, but it’s the wild entertainment of it all that propels the film to its satisfying conclusion.
Director Rebecca McKendryThe third movie from (after a mediocre Christmas horror flick and a made-for-TV thriller) is an absolute banger of an existential comedy exploring everything from toilet seat bacteria to the ultimate insignificance of humanity in the universe. Brief portions of the film take place outside the restrooms, but most of the magic happens inside with McKendry as the cinematographer David Matthewand artistic director Peter Kelly do wonders with confined space. Her looks never get dull or boring as the film keeps everything fresh whether we’re awash in blood, peering through a glory hole, or glimpsing some kind of impending Lovecraftian nightmare.
This unexpected scale, both of visuals and ideas, is part of what lifts Glorious way beyond its designation as a mere “bathroom horror/comedy”. There are big ideas at play here as the voice’s intentions slowly become clearer, and Wes’ realization that he might just be whatever stands between the existence or extinction of humanity. raises the stakes on what is asked of him. And yes, of course, it involves that glory hole.
The scenario (by Joshua Hull and David Ian McKendrybased on a story by Todd Rigney) accurately distributes information about Wes and the supposed god in the second cabin. Every new detail adds to the story and the fun, and while the second act teases minor redundancies here and there, the next laugh, reveal, or glimpse of a monstrous being is always right around the corner. Half the fun of the movie is seeing where it goes next from the confines of that bathroom, and even when you think you have a good grasp of things, Glorious always manages to pull something unexpected out of one hole or another.
Kwanten and Simmons never meet in person – the latter never appears at all – but the two performers find an irresistible rhythm in their conversations. What begins as light chatter between strangers in an uncomfortable setting quickly turns into observations about life, love, responsibility, and more. It might be serious, but the pair also deliver some laugh-inducing barbs and jokes while still feeling some of their natural flow. Simmons’ dry delivery is perfection with some of the biggest laughs. A few other faces appear onscreen throughout, so that’s fine, but it’s ultimately Kwanten’s show, and he delivers from start to finish. His journey is wild spanning all emotional ranges, and he takes viewers with him every step of the way. Just be sure to wash your hands after…
Glorious is a wonderfully deceptive film. It’s funny, but it’s also thoughtful, surprising, and unapologetically weird. Yes, it provides the laughs that eventual trailers promise (trailers I can guarantee you’ll want to avoid), but there’s a lot more lurking just below the surface – and on the other side of this glory hole.
Related Topics: Fantasia Film Festival
Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird considering he’s so young. He is our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and cites “Broadcast News” as his favorite movie of all time. Don’t hesitate to say hello if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.