Glorious Is a Damn Fine Example of Great Cosmic Horror

One thing the past few years has taught us is some of our heroes and favorite creators are actually not that great of people. Color Out of Space has been my favorite cosmic horror film since I saw it, but unfortunately it takes an extreme amount of energy to separate the art from the artist. Upon hearing the allegations against Richard Stanley, I had to take a step back. For someone who is obsessed with Lovecraftian and cosmic horror, Color Out of Space was a perfect adaptation of Lovecraft and quickly became my favorite cosmic horror film; I’m just uncomfortable admitting it. Well, get out of the way Color Out of Space because I think I found my new favorite cosmic horror film in Glorious.

Glorious is the latest cosmic horror film to hit the scene, directed by an insanely talented director. Dr. Rebekah McKendry knows horror inside and out. From the Killer POV Podcast to the highly superior Shock Waves Podcast  Dr. McKendry has long proven her deep knowledge of the genre be it a film from a year ago to a random obscure ’80s film that was released in theatres once. Her debut feature All The Creatures Were Stirring missed the mark for me, though I still watch it every holiday season, but Glorious? My Ghat is this film wicked.

Wes chugs a bottle of whiskey, alone, while leaning up next to his car after arriving at the rest stop

Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is traveling, with seemingly no destination in sight. One fateful day, he pulls into rest stop. You would think it’s the wrong rest stop, but no one rest stop would have been the right one. After a bender that leaves him facedown in the open elements, he wakes up to the rumble gut of a lifetime and quickly scuttles, pantless and shoeless, into the grimy men’s bathroom. Anyone who has even stepped foot in the cleanest of men’s rooms knows just how slimy and sticky his socks would be after being in there for just a minute.

After emptying the sparse contents of his stomach face first into one of the two disgusting toilets, a voice echoes through the bathroom asking Wes if he is okay. Who is this booming voice? It’s (trying my best here) Ghatanathawa (J.K. Simmons), but we can just call it Ghat, for short. What comes next is nothing less than an hour’s worth of deep psychological horror, gruesome fits of rage, more bare face on the ground action, philosophical musings, and revelations for us and Wes.

To start the two main players are huge names. Wes is played by Ryan Kwanten, most famous for his role as Jason Stackhouse in True Blood and Jamie Ashen from Dead Silence. It seems Kwanten hasn’t received the treatment he deserves in the industry; he always gives 110% in everything he does, plus he has the charisma and ability to carry a film. Though there are a few moments when his natural accent slips through here and there, knowing what and who he is, by the end, it kind of makes sense. On top of that when he constantly doesn’t heed Ghat’s warnings he is shown indescribable images, leading to a deep psychosis so the slipping of accents, if you want to be kind, could be attributed to his waning mental state.

A drawing of a three worm headed naked lady, who has three breasts with eyes for nipples, sitting atop a pile of skulls

Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, on the other hand, is usually a powerhouse. From demanding more pictures of Spiderman to breaking a musician’s spirit, there is not a role he cannot dominate. He appears voice only in this film, and that’s one of the main issues I have. The sound design they do for his voice is off putting. It sounds artificially echoed, distant in some scenes, and pressed up against the microphone in others. Rather than sounding like a voice that exists in the bathroom, or in Wes’ head, the voice just sounds off and it took me out of the experience a little. That being said, his ability as a voice actor is second to none, and the character and emotion he is able to put behind just the voice is absolutely rad. Plus it’s just really cool to see someone of his caliber agree to a film like this, because let’s face it not many actors of his regard would go out of their way to be in a cosmic horror film of this ilk.

Whereas the majority of cosmic horror films tend to think cosmic equals tentacles, and yes there are some tentacles in this, the cosmic horror goes to some really dark places. Ghat can effectively alter the memories of Wes, but he also tries to get Wes to recognize what he has actually done. Though it would be interesting to elaborate upon whether or not Wes did what is shown to us, or if that was Ghat planting fake memories for the purpose of getting Wes to do what he wants. There are many tenants of cosmic horror that are prevalent in this film like feeling helpless in a universe that can go on existing without you, the discovery of truth within the world and deep lays dormant deep inside you, and of course buckets of blood, slime, and creepy tentacled creatures.

Wes looks through the glory hole in the bathroom stall to try and get a look at Ghat

The look of Glorious also really adds to the whole mood. Seeing the grimy bathroom slowly get washed over with the purple hues of Ghat’s forcefield, to it literally raining blood, there is not a moment after the first few minutes in the bathroom where it feels anything less than extraordinary. There is no escape from this colorfully grimy goo filled hell.

If you are a fan of cosmic horror this film is going to be right up your alley. It looks, feels, and smells like a cosmic horror film. It has the campiness but deep philosophical roots of a cosmic horror film. And it has the blood and what the fuck moments to satiate a regular popcorn flick viewer. Even if Kwanten and Simmons weren’t cast, I have a sneaking suspicion this film would still be just as great because the script is tight and to the point with little to no filler. Glorious drops on Shudder August 18th, and I highly recommend you check it out!

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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