Fried Barry is writer/director Ryan Kruger’s feature-length expansion of his 2017 short film of the same name (which you can watch here). The short film features Barry freaking out on heroin in a run-down warehouse – and the Shudder-released feature runs with this idea by adding alien abduction to the mix.
Barry (Gary Green) is a drug addict and verbally abusive spouse and father. He is, to put it mildly, a thoroughly unpleasant individual. On his way home from shooting up heroin, Barry is drawn to a strange, red beam of light, wherein he is abducted by an alien spacecraft, subjected to experimentation and ultimately becomes the victim of an invasive extra-terrestrial possession.
Returned to the streets of Cape Town, Barry / the alien entity (we are never entirely sure which) stumbles from one bizarre interaction to another. Without even trying, Barry finds himself having sex with anything that moves and running into a wide variety of seedy lowlifes, unable to differentiate between a mind-altering cosmic experience and a mind-altering chemical one.
Fried Barry is definitely the kind of movie one might call ‘an acquired taste’. There is little more to it than an escalating series of bizarre events and oddball characters, placing it firmly in the outsider cinema territory occupied by the likes of Gummo or The Greasy Strangler – and yet there is a confidence and appealing aesthetic to Fried Barry that makes it superior to both.
For one thing, Haezer’s screeching, electric shock of a score makes Barry’s journey relentlessly unnerving. It brings to mind the abrasive and inescapable sonic pummelling of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and adds a whole new dimension to Barry’s messed-up odyssey.
At its base elements, Fried Barry is a degenerate Under the Skin. Both movies centre on an almost mute alien entity traversing the streets, largely bewildered by what they find there. But while Johnathan Glazer’s movie had an arthouse sensibility and the glamour of Scarlett Johansson, Fried Barry opts for the filth of Trainspotting and the wiry, skeletal presence of Gary Green. Green’s mission here is to walk around bug-eyed and transfixed for the majority of the film, and he does it magnificently, making sure Alien Barry’s seeing-the-the-world-for-the-first-time experience mirrors Real Barry having a drug-induced freak out.
Full disclosure, there are times where Fried Barry teeters on the brink of feeling contrived, as if its goal is to actually be a wacky cult oddity, and it does feel somewhat overlong. You might puzzle over whether or not you’re actually “enjoying” Fried Barry, but it’s also pretty unique in its concept and is thoroughly committed to it. More importantly, Fried Barry remains visually and sonically interesting throughout, so it will definitely appeal to fans of weirdo movies and those who can appreciate the ugly, oddball and downright weird side of cinema.
‘Fried Barry’ is now streaming on Shudder – right HERE.