The contemporary horror movie is an open-ended playfield anyone can contribute to at any scale. The most inclusive of modern genres, horror is rife with opportunities. Anything can fit inside the box. Any kind of wacky story. Oddball characters. You can make big ideas in small spaces. It’s the best place for new voices, outside the all-inclusive form of documentaries. We get to see totally new perspectives, like this peculiar chamber film about Lovecraftian horror orbiting around a glory hole. From director Rebekah McKendry, an avid horror podcaster and student of horror films, comes Glorious, an exhibition of love for genre and how working around limitations in movies can still produce totally satisfying results.
Would you trust the voice of a god? What if it bellowed out of a glory hole? What if it was voiced by J.K. Simmons? You’d just have to listen and take it at face value. Such is the situation for poor Wes (Ryan Kwanten), fresh out of a break up and mysteriously locked inside a rest stop bathroom with an unholy God. The cosmos have chosen him. Sometimes the universe speaks to you through the portrait of a hybrid humanoid creature with five eyes and a glowing hole usually reserved for some form of sexual activity, but now occupied by sacred transmissions.
It looks the way cosmic horror does lately. Lots of bloomed out purples and particle heavy hallucinatory designs. Cthulhu like monsters. Lots of blood splatter, sometimes showers of blood. The look of modern indie horror. Call it clichéd or played out because it’s an effective way to be evocative and to produce aesthetic connections on a lower budget. It works. That’s all horror aesthetics really need to do: justify themselves within the confines of their story.
As a concise bottle episode, clocking in at an agreeably brief 80 minutes, the film still feels “feature length”. You shouldn’t want it cut down any and it shouldn’t be a short film, because everything in it occupies a purpose. It is not too claustrophobic and McKendry does allow flashbacks and horrorish illusions of the past, means of confronting what really drives our character through psychosexual exposure therapy exposed in a ridiculous way. The film luckily contains just enough. It adds another character in and slowly unlocks meaning through J.K. Simmons’ inspired and regularly funny voice performance.
It’s a well judged little thing. There is plentiful merit in getting in and getting out. Show us what we need to see, let the film speak for itself, and allow the visual direction to occupy the space of the film. There is nothing profound here. Nothing you haven’t seen in variations in the kind of indie horror films that are regular festival darlings. This gets to be one of those too. It shows that McKendry has found a smart voice and has keyed into a lifetime of horror influences to create a situation that plays just about how we expect but has plenty of fun doing it. It won’t change your mind. For festival loving genre heads, it may be just enough.