Fantasia Film Festival 2020: ‘Fried Barry’ (2020) Movie Review

In Cape Town, South Africa, a man named Barry (Gary Green: Escape Room 2019) has limited his existence to finding his next fix of narcotics. He dismisses the pleas of his emotional wife to kick the habit and completely ignores his young son as he again leaves them to pursue his demons.

This may sound like a common theme, but what Fried Barry pans out to be is anything but common. You see, while Barry was out on another bender, beings from another planet (for some reason) take notice of Barry and bring him aboard their spacecraft to conduct a number of intrusive and painful experiments on him. Then, his thin, sunken, greasy-looking frame is taken over by one of the aliens to return to earth on one fucked up field trip. 

Spawned from the successful, eponymous short that also stars Gary Green, Fried Barry was expanded upon  by Writer/Director/Producer Ryan Kruger (in his feature-length film debut) to create a uncompromising, chemically-induced extraterrestrial escapade that provides unexpected doses of real-life horror and heart. 

Writer and director Ryan Kruger with star Gary Green

We follow along as Barry’s body is commanded by an alien force, shuffling down a street ripe with unlikable humans. Actor Gary Green nails the overwhelmed, curious visitor’s mannerisms: walking mechanically, rarely blinking, his wide-eyed, expressionless face in an amazed stupor as he encounters some of the most perplexing examples of humankind … all while ingesting copious amounts of illegal substances. Crossing paths with prostitutes, pimps, mental patients, and utter deviants, we witness the new Barry attempting to process these extreme human interactions and responses while under the influence.

Hilarious, unexpected moments are scattered throughout the unapologetic film that both tugs at my heartstrings while simultaneously making me feel downright uncomfortable. Fried Barry pokes you in the chest with its dark, comedic elements that are often overtly sexual, like how powerful his alien sperm is, before uncharacteristically soothing you with Barry’s newfound, effortless empathy displayed towards children and strangers. Positive, emotional urges that have eluded him during his addiction have now begun to develop. But, along with these comes fear, uncertainty, and loneliness as an alien on this planet.

It is all perfectly captured with Kruger in the director’s chair and Director of Photography Gareth Place tag teaming beautifully on this trashy yet touching spectacle that is spun in such a magnetic way. Fried Barry is one hell of a visual treat, set to the indispensable, sonic wave of an original score by South African electronic dance helmsman Haezer that elevates the film to a full-fledged, enjoyable mind fuck. Do not sleep until seeking out this SA genre gem when it becomes available to the masses. 

About Danni Winn

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