Movie Review: “Glorious”

In 2014, I often frequented a video rental store called Family Video. A lot of you may not have heard of it, but it was a chain of stores throughout the Midwest, like Wisconsin or Illinois where I reside. The newest season of Stranger Things actually featured the video store as one of its settings, much to my amusement. Most Family Videos’ have since closed-down, with ours closing down midway through the Covid-19 shutdown. It was a sad moment, in part because my hometown has lost establishments left and right in recent years, but also because it was a significant part of my childhood. 

   I’ll miss seeing those sun-damaged DVD cases and circling the store over and over, in search of something I haven’t seen yet. One such film I discovered was a film called .found, directed by Scott Schirmer, who I interviewed six years later on the Nightmare Shift website. It was an interesting film, rough-around-the-edges, but with enough interesting ideas to outweigh any faults it may have had. The writer of this story was a man named Todd Rigney, a person I’ve since become well-acquainted with. 

   I’ve talked about it briefly on the Nightmare Shift Podcast, but I am a writer and a lot of what I write is horror stories (along with fantasy and crime/mystery). He and I bonded over our shared passion, and, this month, Todd and I collaborated to release Readers Digested, Vol. 1, available on Amazon for Kindle and Paperback, as well as on Mishmashers.com. Not only him, a lot of writers like my brother Scott Moore, Bradley Walker, Matt Schorr, Ashley Grant, and Tim Babbitt also participated. We’re very proud of it, and I hope if you can spare a minute, you might consider checking it out. Our hope to release a new installment annually for the Halloween season. 

   Todd has always been a very nice guy in my experience, and so, I was excited when I found out another one of his short stories was being adapted into a film. I was even more head-over-heels when I found out the film would be a Shudder Exclusive starring Ryan Kwanten and J.K. Simmons. From what he told me, the short story was optioned years and years ago, and sat, untouched, until, one day, out-of-the-blue, he was told of Simmons’ involvement, then came non-disclosure agreements, etcetera, etcetera. 

   Directed by Rebekah McKendry in her feature length debut, (her lone credit is for a short segment included in the well-received Tales of Halloween anthology, Glorious is an oddball film. Adapted to film by Rigney, Joshua Hull, and David Ian McKendry, I’d have it no other way. Whether you’ve seen .found, or you’ve read the stories by Rigney, like what’s in Readers Digested, Vol. 1, for instance, he brings the type of story that makes you tilt your head and look on in confusion – and I mean that in the best of ways. 

   Of course, in general, I am always excited to find out about a colleagues’ newfound successes, whether it be in success found from a newly released novel, or something as special as ones’ novel being adapted into film – I will admit I am always a little leery talking about them. A small voice in the back of my head whispers the phrase, “what if it sucks”. Even if a film isn’t outright bad, there is also the chance it may not agree with me, personally. It can be awkward to write and talk about, and, in general, I try to be sensitive about what I say on my own behalf. It is why I adopted the theology when writing reviews that I only write what I would say to the ones who made it. A simple philosophy of – say what you got to say but don’t be a dick about it. 

   Thankfully, Glorious is a pretty decent film.  

   The feature runs at around eighty minutes and has a goofy, ridiculous premise to marvel at. Glorious’ story centers around a man named Wes who is suffering major symptoms of a hangover – vomiting, vomiting, and more vomiting. He seeks refuge in a public restroom and but is surprised to discover he is by himself. A voice speaks to him from the stall next door, with only what can be seen through a gloryhole lent to him. The voice belongs to a strange creature that asks for his aid, embarking him on a maddening, surrealist trip like none before it. 

   The film’s cinematography is vibrant, using an array of purple’s in-order to accomplish that H.P. Lovecraft style aesthetic, whereas its production-value is well contained by its own restraint. Whereas it could have gone completely balls-to-the-wall with its depiction of the creature, it went for a less is more approach, only depicting the creature in the shadows or at a distance. Thus, the film isn’t exactly as gooey or slimy as the Stuart Gordon film From Beyond, however, it also doesn’t have the cheaply made look of something like The Resonator: Miskatonic U. It is a choice I think is likely for the best as I assume it didn’t have too large of a budget, especially after J.K. Simmons was paid. 

   The acting is solid across the board, although the whole film largely hinges on only two performances – Simmons and Kwanten’s performances. 

   Glorious doesn’t try to be anything too audacious in what it is beyond its central premise.  

   I’m not chastising that; I’m merely suggesting its scope is relatively small. It consists of a couple characters, mostly a single location, and mostly conversation.  

   That in mind, it does keep you engaged. J.K. Simmons’ omniscient voice is cool, calming, yet commanding, and his straight man approach brings some of the films’ most funny moments. They’re funny moments too, I should add. Although the film’s premise is certainly campy, I found the times it actually made me laugh weren’t the reasons I would laugh from a film like Gingerdead Man or Sharknado, this is a film that doesn’t blink with its subject-matter which I appreciate.  

   It is a film about a godly creature in a bathroom stall that threatens to destroy the world and it plays it straight on that. 

   The worst that can be said about the film, other than that it didn’t have the production budget to go completely wild, is that I feel like it maybe doesn’t have enough ideas to justify itself as a feature length film. I’d compare it to something like Benson and Moorhead’s film Resolution, which mostly runs in a single location and features an unseen force as well. The difference is that that film leaned more heavily into its characters and their relationship to carry the runtime. This film does that as well, looking into the human character Wes, his backstory and who he is as a person, but even with everything that happened, I couldn’t escape the feeling this could’ve been a more neat and tidy short film, running about half an hour in an anthology.  

   When Glorious is good, I really like it, but sometimes, too, I feel like there are things that happen that feel like they only happen to justify a feature length. 

   It is worth mentioning that the film itself is based on a short story called Old Glory and, although I haven’t read it, I wouldn’t be surprised to find it likely works better as a short story

   All in all, I liked Glorious as a film. It was a fun diversion and a nice addition to the Shudder streaming services’ catalogue. It does suffer from some limitations brought on by the budget, and I do feel like it would have been better suited for a short film packaged inside an anthology film (this would be a great story for a Mortuary Collection style film), but it’s still an entertaining, unique flick I’d recommend. 

Rating: – 2.5 out of 5.0

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