Something is living in a bathroom stall at a roadside rest stop in director Rebekah McKendry‘s “Glorious,” a grisly, inventive horror film that will have you asking, “is it real, or just a booze-induced hallucination?” The entire film plays like a nightmare, and while I can’t say I enjoyed watching this one, it is creative and interesting enough to offer a mild recommendation.
Suffering from a broken heart, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) has ended up at a remote rest stop that is miles away from civilization. His evening goes from bad to worse when he locks himself inside the bathroom, discovering that he isn’t trapped in there alone. There’s a strange glow and ominous voice coming from the end stall, and this mystery man (voice of J.K. Simmons) insists that Wes may be the only hope in stopping a terrible event. They strike up the most bizarre conversation that eventually leads to terrible consequences.
It’s a simple yet compelling premise that’s perfect for a low budget independent film. There’s no need for flashy sets or big name stars: McKendry lets the disturbing mystery and the macabre visuals carry the story. With clever camerawork and eerie lighting, she makes the confined space of a roadside bathroom feel terrifying and suffocating, and the disturbing tone of Simmons’ voice adds to the distressing atmosphere.
At just a 78 minute run time, McKendry makes effective use of the script, although it does feel like she runs out of material. The story is interesting and filled with uncomfortably funny moments, which leads to an abrupt shift in tone throughout the film. One minute it’s dead serious, then it’s excessive tongue-in-cheek weirdness the next. The dialogue is sometimes as rough as the mediocre lead performance, and I didn’t like either very much. Ditto for the directing, which is especially rocky as the film gets going.
The story is what kept me engaged, and there’s an awesome twist (that I would argue comes a little too late). Still, I never could look away nor wanted to give up on the movie out of sheer curiosity of where the all of this weirdness would eventually lead.
I have a tendency to want to like small, inventive indies like this, and I’ll admit that I am willing to overlook a majority of the rough elements because I appreciate the effort and creativity here. “Glorious” is an off-the-rails, bloody, unhinged horror tale that may not be expertly crafted, but it sure is compelling.