Fried Barry Poster

Review: Fried Barry (2020) – Fantasia

Expanded from his short of the same name, writer/director Ryan Kruger’s first feature Fried Barry is pretty well fried in its own right. It’s an insane tale of a heroin addict, aliens and residents of Cape Town who are even stranger than the alien.

Barry (Gary Green, Escape Room) is a heroin-addicted asshole who seems to delight in disappointing his wife Suz (Chanelle De Jager) and their son. After starting the day off with an argument, Barry heads to the pub, meets up with a friend and shoots up. That’s when the film goes from a drug-fueled drama to something much stranger.

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Wandering the streets, Barry is bathed in a red light and pulled up into the sky. Since we know he’s a scumbag, it can’t be The Rapture. So it must be aliens. He undergoes some strange, and painful looking, procedures. No, he doesn’t get anal probed, but his tool does get something shoved into it. Then Barry gets returned to Earth. At least his alien possessed body does. And the alien has no idea what it’s in for.

Plot-wise, Fried Barry is mostly a collection of bizarre and grotesque sequences strung together. Barry wanders around Cape Town, runs into people, things happen, and he wanders off to the next scene. Kruger made his name directing music videos, and it shows. A good portion of the film is without dialogue, just images and music, whether it’s the score or assorted Techno tracks. But the plot isn’t the point here, the visuals are.

And those visuals are all manner of insane. Barry has sex with a woman who immediately becomes pregnant and gives birth. Barry fights a child trafficker armed with a chainsaw. The whole sequence on the alien spaceship. And a few more, all quite bizarre and brilliantly shot.

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And speaking of bizarre, there’s the whole escape from the insane asylum sequence. That’s odd in a way that Barry being an alien can’t explain. Which raises, or re-raises depending on your mind works, the possibility none of this is real. That it’s all just been Barry tripping his balls off. Though that’s not nearly as much fun as believing aliens are involved.

Gary Green’s nearly wordless performance as the fried Barry gives the film its centre. He manages to do amazing things with his expressions and body language. He still can’t make it believable that all these women would be attracted to him, but we’ll put that down to alien pheromones.

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Ultimately, feeling somewhat like a cross between Street Trash, Combat Shock and Liquid Sky, Fried Barry won’t be for everyone. Apart from the content, the lack of a solid plot will also turn some viewers off. I do wish the narrative had been a bit stronger, but Kruger manages to make the film’s sights and sounds more than compensate for the lack of story.

Fried Barry played as part of this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Rock Salt Releasing, who did well at last year’s festival with another South African film, The Soul Collector, has picked it up for future release. You can check the film’s Facebook page for details on other festival showings and release plans. You can also check out the film’s website and see the original short film.

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