Film Review: Glorious | Deviations

“Glorious” plunges into the abyss by echoing the cosmicism of Lovecraft

If you appreciate the current resurgence of weird literary fiction, you must know the names of some of its most notable pioneers, such as William Hope Hodgson, MR James, Clark Ashton Smith, and HP Lovecraft. The revival of the subgenre – often referred to as “the new weird” – has been led by authors such as Jeff VanderMeer, China Miéville, KJ Bishop, Storm Constantine, Laird Barron, Thomas Ligotti and Jeffrey Thomas. All of them have been influenced in some way by the Elder Gods of weird fiction. And of these early pioneers, Lovecraft’s name is perhaps the most familiar to the general masses. Lovecraft has become ubiquitous in the publishing world. Visit a local bookstore or search online booksellers and you’ll find a slew of novels and anthologies revolving around the ever-changing and evolving themes, motifs, and pantheon of alien gods that make up the Cthulhu mythos.

Trust me. I should know. I have written dozens of Lovecraftian tales for various publications over the years.

Before anyone raises an eyebrow, know that Lovecraft’s literary contributions are loaded with significant baggage. Scholars have argued how these undermine his legacy and contribution to the subgenre.

One of the most striking aspects of Lovecraft’s fiction was the idea of ​​cosmicism: the revelation of humanity’s cosmic insignificance.

Director Rebekah McKendry plumbs the depth of Lovecraft’s core philosophy in “Glorious,” a grungy, gritty, and transgressive nightmare set in a heady closed room. “Glorious” was released on Shudder on August 18.

The film opens with Wes (Ryan Kwanten) driving down a two-lane road in a rural setting. It quickly becomes clear that he is fleeing from something that is no longer visible in the rearview mirror: a failed relationship. What isn’t immediately clear is the set of circumstances that caused the bad breakup. Right from the start, the viewer doesn’t know how much empathy to give Wes. It is both tragic and threatening.

Struggling to stay conscious as he runs along the ribbon of asphalt that connects his ruinous past to his unwritten future, he soon arrives in the parking lot of a remote rest area. Here, Wes succumbs to the inner turmoil bubbling within him. His collapse is accelerated by at least half a bottle of whisky. As night falls, he tries to erase his pain by sacrificing some of his most prized possessions – mostly never-before-seen photographs captured by an instant camera – in a fire pit near a picnic table. The editing looks intentionally evocative, as if McKendry is simulating a tribal ceremony involving ritual offerings to apathetic gods.

The next morning, Wes wakes up and feels an urgent and immediate need to find a bathroom. Luckily, he’s still at the rest stop. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that he is not alone.

Ghatanothoa (JK Simmons) graciously waits for Wes to stop throwing up before making his presence known.

Full stop: I know you’re going to ask, so I’ll let Daniel Harms, author of “The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia” explain.

According to Harms’ entry on Ghatanothoa, this Great Old One was “left by the mushrooms of Yuggoth in the mountain of Yaddith-Gho in the now sunken land of Mu. The people of Mu made many sacrifices to the god and his priests, fearing that Ghatanothoa would leave his home and seek prey among mankind if he was not appeased. The sight of the Old One was particularly feared, as it would petrify anyone who looked at him, leaving them encased in a leather skin for eternity.

The entry goes on to point out that Ghatanoathoa is one of the three “sons” of Cthulhu and Idh-yaa. The other two are Ythogtha and Zoth-Ommog.

Ghatanothoa—or Ghat, since the Great Old One’s name cannot be pronounced correctly without holding his tongue while speaking it—informs Wes that fate brought them together intentionally. The universe, Ghat claims, has a favor to ask Wes. The fate of all life depends on whether or not Wes will comply.

This is the setup: a heartbroken and mentally fragile man finds himself confronted by an unknowable and awe-inspiring entity that is equally terrifying and absurd. Wes and Ghat weave through extraordinary arguments, pursuing various lines of reasoning, as each tries to find meaning and purpose as they face an impending and inconceivable predicament.

Working from a well-crafted screenplay by Joshua Hull and Dave Ian McKendry, the director successfully blends humor with carnage, absurdity with authenticity, and persistence with nonsense. “Glorious” is intentionally misleading at times, lulling viewers into a false sense of levity and superficiality before flooding them with an unexpected geyser of blood and gore.

Its plot is driven by the complex parleys between Wes, whose lack of mental stability makes him an unreliable character; and Ghat, whose initial civility and charm are increasingly overshadowed by impatience and exasperation. Their tete-a-tete grows more unsettling with every passing moment as each reveals terrible universal truths just as gruesome as the prospect of a lifeless void squeezing out the universe.

That this Lovecraftian nightmare takes place amid the filth and grime of filthy public restrooms is somehow monstrously appropriate. What better place to explore dark parables of how some people view others as superfluous and unessential.

It’s probably no surprise that “Glorious” has emerged from its chrysalis during the pandemic. The screenplay was written by Todd Rigney, Joshua Hull and David Ian McKendry.

“Joshua and Dave’s storyline immediately resonated with everything I was going through – isolation, reflection and a dark, sardonic perspective on our meager lives as we zoomed in on work and tried to make banana bread,” said the director. “I felt that script with every fiber of my sweatpants laden body and I knew I wanted to see the project brought to the screen.”

McKendry strikes the perfect balance between deep, philosophical dialogue and striking visuals that are both grotesque and captivating. It’s more than a tribute to Lovecraft and cosmicism; it is a metaphysical reappropriation of cosmic horror emphasizing the obligation of the individual to society.

“‘Glorious’ is about my adoration for Lovecraft, gore, absurd humor, philosophy and the kind of transgressive movies that leave you thinking ‘I can’t believe I just saw this,'” she said. stated “It’s a wild mix of horror, humor and heady moralistic concepts about our own existential realizations of who we really are, forcing each of us to look into our personal abyss.”

McKendry succeeded on what must have been a shoestring budget in the wake of a pandemic. While it may target a niche market, “Glorious” is an impressive effort by any measure. Approach it as a fan of weird fiction, a follower of Lovecraft, or a fan of hardcore horror and you’ll find it offers a surprisingly elegant, clever, and unsettling deep dive into cosmic horror.

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