The locked room of “Glorious” is a men’s room at a run-down rest stop somewhere on the edge of a lonely highway. Wes (Ryan Kwanten) drives down that particular highway after a rough breakup, his car crammed full of possessions, his head crawling with thoughts of how and where it all went wrong for him. The rest stop seems like the perfect place to take a little break, maybe have a drink or two and try to regain a little of what he’s lost.
But one drink becomes more or less a whole bottle, and the next morning a hungover Wes sprints to the men’s room. But this isn’t just any men’s room. Something lurks in the booth next door, its energy radiating out what appears to be a glory hole in the wall, something that claims to be a god (voiced by JK Simmons) and further claims that the world will survive the days to come come, it needs the help of Wes. Is this his chance to fix everything he’s done wrong, or is he about to become a mindless victim in a cosmic game older than time itself?
The meat of Glorious, as the trailer suggests, are the conversations between Wes and the god, which begin with Wes just not believing what he’s experiencing while the god explains what’s really going on in Simmons’ soothing voice . This could have been an exercise in sheer, tedious performance, or a routine checklist of various logical concerns viewers themselves might have when watching the film. But the screenplay, written by Joshua Hull and David Ian McKendry, keeps those conversations never boring. Sometimes the staleness is avoided by Wes attempting excursions out of the magically locked bathroom, but the refreshing quality of these scenes comes mostly through in the dialogue, which feels real despite the surreal nature of the conversations. There’s a really precise, considered merging of grittiness and depth in the words, and it helps the whole movie land better, especially in the first act when things are getting established.
The same mix of grittiness and depth is evident in the film’s visual style from the start. McKendry, who made her mark as a horror scholar and commentator before making films herself, is a lifelong student of horror imagery, and that means Glorious is brimming with well-executed shots. Whether we’re seeing an odd, primal squirming of something just below the cabin’s wall, or just looking at a sick man crouched next to a toilet, there’s a real depth to the vocabulary that McKendry put in the frames, the pacing, and the general Character from each brings scene, and that’s what makes “Glorious” compelling even at its most grounded moments.