[Fantasia 2020 Review] 'Fried Barry' Fries the Mind with A Combination of Exploitation and Psychedelic Visuals
Ryan Krueger moved to South Africa over a decade ago and has been trying his hand at a variety of mediums including music videos, tv shows, and short films...
...One such short earned the director quite a few awards with his mesmerizing three and a half minutes of a drug addict experiencing a painful looking trip. Set in an abandoned warehouse, the camera focuses on Barry (Gary Green) as his body and face twitch and move unnaturally. The mix of Green’s physicality and a bit of digital manipulation overlaid with an absolutely intense and haunting sound design creates an immersive experience for the viewer. With the success of the short version, Krueger decided to turn Fried Barry into a full-length film by expanding on what is actually happening to the drug addict in this brief scene. Obviously, Barry partakes in some illegal drugs, but the full-size movie also shows the audience an alien abduction which occurs during the needle induced high. Making its Canadian premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival, Fried Barry follows a tourist alien as it experiences Earth through the eyes of an abusive drug addict.
Barry establishes himself quickly as a dirty and useless person who neglects his wife and (possible) child. He wears a sour demeanor and possess a focused and almost aggressive gait as he walks around the city in search of another fix. The main character strongly resembles in appearance and in motivation the arrogant and substance obsessed patriarchal character in the British and American version of Shameless. However, Barry speaks very little and only voices any thoughts or opinions when addressed by another person. In fact, most of the movie relies very little on dialogue of any kind as people tend to either speak to themselves or speak at Barry.
A few minutes into the film we witness a trippy and artsy drug trip which seamlessly transitions into an even trippier and artsier alien abduction complete with penial probe. After his abduction, Barry (now serving as a host to an alien-lifeform) returns to the streets of Cape Town where he silently weaves his way through the darker side of human existence. He witnesses couples fighting, people selling or indulging in drugs, and sexual encounters. Barry’s mute observance does not prevent others from interacting with him or even forcing him to participate in some more illicit activities. His lack of responses or simply repeating the last word spoken, simulates verbal exchanges and even consent for numerous people. As the alien/Barry creature stumbles through one vignette to the next, you feel bad for the character because he does not encounter the best representations of human life. In fact, everyone Barry meets seems way too eager to give him drugs and/or sleep with him. The grittiness seen in the short version of Barry comes through in the film version but trying to sustain the unflinching tone throughout a full-length movie does grow tiresome in certain parts. Instead of following the common pattern of a plot, the movie plays as a series of shorts as Barry goes to a club, impregnates a prostitute who immediately gives birth, and meets a serial killer.
This is a film you cannot stop watching because of the combination of visuals and sounds. Director Ryan Kruger flawlessly combines a tension filled score from Haezer, some psychedelic cinematography, and really subtle CGI which will make you question if you are imagining things or not. And Green’s performance in the short gives you a small taste of what this actor can accomplish using only his face and body. The sci-fi touch comes with some flashy effects which do not go overboard and seem at place in an exploitation film.
Fried Barry will not appeal to everyone because of the rough content material and exploitation qualities of the visuals, but the film does hold some cult-qualities to the performance of the director and main actor. Overall, the story, does not play as a traditional plot, but more as a collection of events where only Barry exists as the (mostly) silent narrator. The unique approach to storytelling could reflect the creativity of the director but could also demonstrate the director’s limitations on creating a movie-length storyline. Only time will tell with Kruger. If the concept of the film intrigues you, check out the short as a quick fix. After consuming the three-minute version you find yourself itching for more, then you will enjoy the trip that is Fried Barry.
Fried Barry will be playing On-Demand from Fantasia throughout the course of the festival.
By Amylou Ahava
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