Fantasia 2020 Review: Fried Barry
Updated: Aug 19
Ryan Kruger's trippy, tongue-in-cheek debut feature is destined for cult status
Written by Katherine McLaughlin
Ryan Kruger’s debut feature, based on his 2016 short of the same title, plays out like the mutant lovechild of Jonas Åkerlund’s controversial music video for The Prodigy’s Smack my Bitch Up video and Under the Skin. Before the film begins proper a recreation of Simon Bates'18 certificate warning nods to the influence of 1980s output on its aesthetic. With that, Fried Barry proudly announces its intentions to push the boundaries of acceptability and a pub conversation early on, also suggests it’s keen to challenge the hypocrisy of what is considered acceptable in the mainstream.
When drug addled Barry (Gary Green) wanders home after a night out, he is suddenly beamed aboard an alien ship, immediately probed and then possessed by a life force new to the planet. In Barry’s body the alien is guided on an odyssey through the buzzing nightlife of Cape Town, South Africa, observing it with wide-eyed wonder and curiosity.
The fish out of water road trip is a common trope in science-fiction, used as a way to observe and comment on humanity and the modern world. But this isn’t John Carpenter’s sensitively handled Starman - this is a raw, unadulterated vision of a walk on the wild side that has more in common with the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky. The alien is of course greeted by drunken kebab shop punters littering the streets with sick and garbage. He then engages in copious sex with a number of women, acts as hero to a group of children and gets beaten to within an inch of his life. As the alien’s understanding of the human race evolves, it appears to Barry’s exhausted wife and young son, that he is becoming more caring and attentive; their domestic situation is a source of both humour and abject horror that continually prods and pokes at toxic behaviour.
Director Kruger and DOP Gareth Place inject the film with a gritty, trippy visual energy and the score from Haezer adds to the building intensity of Barry’s infernally fried state of mind. Add to that, Green’s committed performance – a weirdly mesmerising fusion of facial contortions, gurning and impossible shapes – and it’s difficult not to break a smile. For all the depravity and debauchery there’s also a few perversely charming surprises in store. Fried Barry is a greasy, grubby, tongue-in-cheek reflection of a chaotic world that’s destined for cult status, and marks Kruger out as one to watch. Your enjoyment of it may depend on your affection for 1980s video nasties.
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Director: Ryan Kruger
Screenwriter: Ryan Kruger
Cast: Gary Green, Brett Williams, Joey Cramer
Running time: 99 mins