Film Reviews

Fried Barry review: Dir. Ryan Kruger [Fantasia 2020]

What’s this, you say? A new film about alien abduction? I’m in.

From South Africa comes writer-director Ryan Kruger’s first feature film, Fried Barry. The feature length film is based upon the short film of the same name, which earned 59 official selections and 13 wins at festivals around the world.

Kruger really does have an eye for the absurd and fanatical, and Fried Barry is certainly NOT for the lighthearted. I love a film that begins with a “Don’t forget this is an 18” warning, through which I immediately knew I was in for a wild ride. It wastes no time drawing you immediately in with the intersecting drug-fuelled images and mixture of English and South African languages.

Its premise is certainly a peculiar one. We are immediately introduced to “Fried” Barry (Gary Green), a middle aged South African bloke with a drug problem and an unhappy home life who certainly has a penchant for the hard stuff, who is then abducted by aliens. Or is he?

Either way, we follow Barry in his bizarre world for the next 90 minutes as he navigates this new world for him, and indeed for us, as he is bewildered by all the rather motley and peculiar bunch of characters he encounters. It is extremely graphic in places and again not for the fainthearted, particularly in its sexual depictions. It is certainly unclear to me why Barry is so sexually attractive to so many characters in this film, but this could indeed be the alien in him along with an ingrained drug fuelled fantasy of being highly attractive. One particular scene in a shop with a particularly over-zealous shop keeper did make me laugh; it’s clearly such a fantasy film for the character of Barry and perhaps why he loves the drugs that he does.

My main problem with Barry as the protagonist is that there is no real saving grace moment for him, he really is not the nicest guy in the world and I really wasn’t sure why I was meant to be rooting for him at all. The character is not a likeable person with no redeeming features whatsoever, certainly throughout the first half of the film. Some of the things he gets up to are particularly revolting.

Saying that, Gareth Place‘s cinematography in Fried Barry is beautiful. The colours and tone are fantastical to watch. It’s difficult to look away but rather instead await what bizarre occurrence will happen to Barry next. It has scenes which I found akin to Under the Skin, a world in which the viewer is watching a complete spectacle, unsure what is happening before them. The original score from Haezer is also utterly compelling, and fits perfectly with the narrative.

In truth, Kruger’s given us a chaotic film that keeps you guessing, you never really know where it’s going and this element I appreciated; that lack of predictability is a welcome change of pace. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a drug-fuelled alien abduction madhouse of a film., and sure this will become a cult classic for some, as it is one of those bizarre stories that stays with you long after the credits roll. I’m not sure however how soon I want to see Barry’s face again, myself.

Fried Barry is a lot of things; it’s horrific, an assault on your senses, it is disgusting, slightly overwhelming and sometimes amusing. It is most definitely not for everyone, but for those who it suits, it most certainly will be.

Fried Barry is screening at Fantasia 2020: https://fantasiafestival.com/en/film/fried-barry

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