Nothing is off the table in South African writer-director Ryan Kruger’s mind-melting feature debut Fried Barry. An alien abduction, spontaneous pregnancy and a chainsaw-wielding psychopath (and much more) are all part of the ludicrously insane, drug-fuelled journey that awaits viewers in this modern-day cult classic.
The movie stars a piercing-eyed Gary Green as the eponymous Barry, who after having an argument with his wife (Chanelle de Jager) storms off to inject heroin with a friend. During his hallucinogenic trip, Barry is abducted by an alien who – in a sensory-shattering visual sequence – takes control of his body so that it can explore the seedy streets of Cape Town. Dishevelled, glazed eyes and exhibiting peculiar behaviours, onlookers assume that our protagonist is “fried” as he aimlessly wanders the night to find himself in increasingly bizarre situations.
Everything about Kruger’s debut is tackled with a visceral creativity and offbeat sense of humour that’s uncomfortable to watch but impossible to look away from. Cape Town’s nightlife is coloured with dizzying reds and sickly greens while pounding dance music dominate the soundtrack. The filmmaker takes great glee in distorting the sound design and visuals to the extreme throughout Barry’s journey. The results run the gamut from downright disturbing moments of stomach-churning gruesomeness to all-out euphoria and loving sentimentality. It’s impossible to know what to expect next, which is what makes the ride that much more enjoyable.
There’s no real plot structure to Barry’s journey, nor does the flick take itself too seriously. Like the alien tourist, viewers are thrown from one strange encounter to the next with hardly any time to breathe. The second half (which is proceeded by a trance-like intermission section) does attempt to inject some narrative elements into the mix which slows down the chaotic pacing. These plot points (if they can be called that) are relatively short lived, though – and the madness is free to continue.
Kruger has shown himself to be an unstoppable creative force within his standout feature debut. Fried Barry is what the baby scene from Trainspotting would look like if that were on drugs. The thrills don’t stop until the credits roll in this gritty, grimy and fantastical romp that has all the makings for a soon-to-be cult favourite.
Fried Barry is released digitally on demand on 7th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for Fried Barry here: