Glorious Review: A Goopy Lovecraftian Restroom Comedy [Fantasia]

Rebekah McKendry's "Glorious" answers a ravenous call for more goop in contemporary horror — a callback to the minds of Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, and other sensationally sloppy (re: effects) genre filmmakers. Slimy, icky cosmic horror gets existential in a roadway rest stop bathroom to embrace single-location simplicity, yet existential provocation is infinite. It's a bit "Lovecraftian Saw" as cotton-candy-colored doomsdaying pits man against hidden gobbledygook, relying on dialogue and unseen characters to examine mortal sins on a universal scale. Storytelling threads aren't always tied-off tightly, but writers Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry, and Todd Rigney have a solid sense of humor about their possible world-eater destruction. It's the film's sticky, oozy secret sauce.

Ryan Kwanten stars as disheveled Wes, who appears to be living out of his car after a breakup. Wes wakes up supremely hungover outside a pullover restroom in the middle of nowhere one night after burning his ex's memories and his pants. Wearing boxers only, he enters the grimy traveler's bathroom to puke his guts out and hears a voice from the second stall that asks to start a conversation. Wes attempts to collect himself while speaking with the mysterious presence who demands to remain unseen — and that's when Wes realizes he's locked in the bathroom with a stowaway entity, not from our planet. His name? Ghatanothoa (J.K. Simmons).

"Glorious" is a movie about moods and aesthetics. Color palettes smack of "Color Out of Space" as hazy pinkish glows form a forcefield around Ghatanothoa's potty hideaway. Gushy gore eventually paints the bathroom with a slippery coating of reddened viscera, altering the film's vibrant ambiance. It's never wholly successful in uniting plotlines between Wes' murky romantic past and Ghatanothoa's cowering away from an even scarier father monster. Still, McKendry indulges our curiosity while emphasizing grotesque visuals, obscure comedy, and the squishier accents around an otherwise more tangled narrative.

An emphasis on weird

Kwanten and Simmons sustain solid banter despite never being on the same set. Simmons speaks from behind stall graffiti of a grotesque beast, and we do spy his blobby figure's bottom in brief sneaks from underneath, but Kwanten predominantly acts against nothing. Wes' anxiety spikes while Ghatanothoa's temper remains level, speaking with patience while Wes contemplates what's being asked by his eternal companion. I reference "Saw" because Ghatanothoa feels like a warmer and more accommodating Jigsaw, but the humor between their interactions is far more successful than the horrific stakes. Maybe that's Kwanten reacting to tragic dismemberment collateral damage or interrupting the almighty Ghatanothoa's all-important monologues with an endless urine stream. "You thought your human penis would save the universe?" There's some A+ comedy in "Glorious" directly related to the juvenility of framing the world's impending apocalypse around selfishness, sinners, and a glory hole — none better than Wes foolishly presuming his male genitalia can save the world.

While McKendry's directorial instances on a minimal budget are robust, Wes and Ghatanothoa's intertwined stories never cleanly untangle by the time "Glorious" climaxes. There's an ambition to parallel backstories that falls relatively flat, as well as a sense that everything gets lost in Lovecraftian grandness — but the ride is what keeps us around. Kwanten employs commanding physical comedy that incorporates urinals, and there are freakishly abstract angles that stare into swirling cosmoses (plus gigantic teddy bears). There's an emphasis on "weird" that can be unwieldy, but in a way that's ultimately entertaining based on two veteran actors bringing their presence to something that'd be nothing but fecal frustration in worse hands.

In the end, "Glorious" represents Lovecraftian adaptations from their most excellent strategies to frequent frustrations — weighted more on the positive side of the proverbial scale. Performers act like they're having a blast confronting otherworldly questions that don't always get answers, while Rebekah McKendry saturates her stinky parable in deep colorization and insatiable grossness. Ryan Kwanten and J.K. Simmons are always the right choices, between the frantic disbelief and cunning calmness they both respectively bring to their roles. "Glorious" might not save the world, yet it's still a wonderful way to pass the time while humanity as we know it is devoured by threats we'll never comprehend.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10