Glorious (2022)

Director: Rebekah McKendry

Running Time: 79 Minutes

Starring: Ryan Kwanten, J.K. Simmons, Sylvia Grace Crim, Tordy Clark, André Lamar

Reeling from a bad break-up, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) ends up at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. He finds himself locked inside the bathroom while a mysterious stranger (J.K. Simmons) speaks to him from the next stall. Wes just wants to escape, yet he finds himself an unwilling part of a situation far larger and more horrifying than he could ever imagine.

Tapping into Lovecraftian elements for this story, director Rebekah McKendry showcases interesting flourishes throughout her latest feature. While an attempted escape through the vents and a shower of blood sequence are well-done, the standout beats use the unseen and audiences imaginations to build the suspense. Less effective are the comedic beats, sadly feeling like filler within an already short film.

What screenwriters Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry, and Todd Rigney haven't forgotten is the two-handed chamber piece central to the story, as fate pairs an unseen entity with a broken-hearted man to chat through a glory hole. Kwanten does a serviceable job as Wes, the human struggling to wrap his head around the fantastical situation he's caught in the middle of. The darker moments are where he shines brightest, capturing the character's bitterness at the world as he ignores what's asked of him to focus on his individual pain, while never willingly admitting his own faults.

Delivering a voice only performance, Simmons lends his expressive vocals to a mysterious being whose purpose is to explain the situation to Wes and occasionally take a threatening tone. What could've felt like a handy exposition machine is instead a vital part of the story, bouncing off the lead with great rapport. Key to this tale are how these two are more alike then they realise, as this pair of destructive beings feel trapped within a world they don't belong in. An interesting collection of ideas which forms a decent way to pass the evening.

Glorious is available on Shudder from 18th August