Under The Radar: The Lovecraftian Ick Of Glorious, A Different Side Of Anna Kendrick In Alice, Darling, And More

(Welcome to Under the Radar, a column where we spotlight specific movies, shows, trends, performances, or scenes that caught our eye and deserved more attention ... but otherwise flew under the radar. In this edition: "Glorious" serves up Lovecraftian ick with a side of cheese, Anna Kendrick shines in "Alice, Darling," and appreciating the downbeat joys of HBO's "Perry Mason.")

March is sort of a weird, in-between period in the moviegoing calendar. With Oscars season thankfully behind us but the summer blockbuster season not quite in gear just yet, we're left with an odd mix of theatrical offerings: a handful of immensely successful franchise sequels (shoutout to "Scream VI," Creed III," and "John Wick: Chapter 4"), some notable bombs (light a candle for "Operation Fortune," "65," and "Shazam! Fury of the Gods"), and possibly some reason to hope (here's looking at you, "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves"). But don't let that fool you into thinking that there wasn't much else worth your time throughout the last few weeks. It just takes a little bit of digging to fully appreciate the hidden gems.

March alone featured the streaming debuts of movies like "Official Competition," surprise Oscars darling "Triangle of Sadness," the documentary "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," and "Rye Lane." On the television side of the equation, Bob Odenkirk dropped his follow-up to "Better Call Saul," titled "Lucky Hank." But because I can only abuse my power so much, I'm going to exercise some restraint and limit myself to only three of the biggest surprises of the month. That means taking a gore-soaked trip down a glory hole in Shudder's "Glorious," praising Anna Kendrick's talents in the indie drama "Alice, Darling," and throwing some love towards television's best sadboi: HBO's "Perry Mason."

Glorious provides laughs and scares in equal measure

You hear the popular refrain a lot that aspiring filmmakers only need a camera, determination, and creativity. The reality of this industry is slightly more complicated than that, unfortunately, but few movies truly capture that run-and-gun feel of making the absolute most out of a shoestring budget more than "Glorious."

The schlocky horror film, which received its Shudder streaming debut back in August of 2022 and celebrated its home media release earlier this month (which gives me full reign to include it in this edition of my column, yay for loopholes!), follows Ryan Kwanten's forlorn Wes, who's on the cusp of a breakdown after what seems like a long-term relationship gone sour. Cue the aimless drive to nowhere, an alcohol-fueled meltdown at a rest stop, and encountering a Lovecraftian entity trapped in a public bathroom that refuses to let Wes leave until he saves the world.

You know, just your standard post-breakup stuff.

Directed with tangible aplomb by Rebekah McKendry from a script by Joshua Hull and David Ian McKendry, the film largely focuses on a single character in a single location — guided along by the impeccable voice work of none other than J.K. Simmons as the horrifying, non-corporeal creature known as Ghatanothoa (Ghat, for short!). It'd be easy for a premise like this to disappoint in its execution, but McKendry never once gives viewers a chance to become bored by the lack of scope and scale of this project. It helps that Kwanten makes Wes feel like the most pathetic man on Earth, Simmons provides plenty of dry humor, and the visuals at work always keeps things looking interesting — and a little gross, too.

"Glorious" is currently streaming on Shudder and available to purchase on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD.

Anna Kendrick gets capital-S serious in Alice, Darling

It isn't exactly a secret that Anna Kendrick is a talented actor. The "Pitch Perfect" fans out there would certainly have a lot to say about it, but she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress back in 2010 with "Up in the Air" and we most recently were reminded of her comedic and dramatic capabilities with 2018's schlocky "A Simple Favor." But as far as capital-S serious roles go, we've been waiting to see if Kendrick would truly go there. Now, that wait is over.

"Alice, Darling" provides that perfect platform for the star, providing her with a multifaceted character whose largely sedate personality belies the fierceness hidden within. (/Film's Lex Briscuso reviewed the movie here, calling it "a marriage of solid direction, writing, and performance.") Like many abuse narratives, director Mary Nighy's feature debut (written by Alanna Francis) can be an uncomfortable watch at times. Trapped in a suffocating relationship with subtly overbearing boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick), Kendrick's Alice has become a shell of herself — a regression that's only ever hinted at through her interactions with childhood friends Sophie (a tenacious Wunmi Mosaku) and Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn, whose steely yet brittle performance makes her a scene-stealer). Upon spending a weekend together, Alice's simmering trauma reaches its nadir and she can no longer pretend and hide her profound unhappiness from the others.

Kendrick constantly elevates the somewhat too-subdued script by breathing life into Alice at every turn ... even at her most hollow and forlorn. Throughout "Alice, Darling," the star always finds a way to disappear into the role and make us as invested in the character as she obviously is. It might be her best performance yet.

"Alice, Darling" is currently available to purchase on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD.

Don't overlook Perry Mason

By the letter of the law, an HBO prestige series starring Matthew Rhys, based on a pre-existing IP, and blessed with a budget and sense of scale to rival entire film productions is by no means "under the radar" ... but, in a television landscape dominated by the likes of "Succession" and "Yellowjackets" and "The Mandalorian," it's easy to see why the gruff, no-frills, and almost punishingly bleak tone of "Perry Mason" wouldn't drive much conversation on social media. But don't let that distract from the fact that this is easily one of the best shows currently airing.

Season 2 of the neo-noir detective series brings back the core group that viewers came to love: Rhys' almost comically-tortured detective-turned-lawyer Perry Mason, Juliet Rylance's secretary-turned-partner Della Street, and Chris Chalk's ex-cop investigator Paul Drake. Despite a revamped creative team behind the scenes, the story thus far has gone out of its way to connect the dots to the horrific crime from the debut season, which saw Gayle Rankin's Emily Dodson as the chief suspect of an infant kidnapping and homicide. Though the central crime is completely different, season 2 has further delved into Mason's wounded psyche as he once again takes on the seemingly un-winnable case of a pair of young Mexican boys accused of killing a wealthy and beloved public figure in Los Angeles.

Thanks to the sharp writing of showrunners Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, brilliant direction by Fernando Coimbra and Jessica Lowrey (with episodes by Marialy Rivas and Nina Lopez-Corrado soon to air), and a consistently high standard set for moody noir lighting, a toe-tapping jazz soundtrack, and an ensemble of colorful characters, "Perry Mason" is the feel-bad series of the year.

"Perry Mason" is currently streaming on HBO Max.