Fantasia International Film Festival: Fried Barry (2020) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

The movie warns you at the beginning, but Fried Barry (2020) is definitely not for everybody. It’s bold, odd, and easily qualifies as avant-garde at times. There is a story that gets a little crazy, and it is possible that it offers commentary on South Africa that requires context not provided. Either way, while much of the style and sensibilities of the film didn’t mesh with personal tastes, I can’t say it is bad, or honestly, even unenjoyable. It is interesting and certainly seems to be the end result and singular vision of its writer/director, Ryan Kruger. 

Barry (Gary Green) is depicted to be a horrible protagonist. He is a drug addict and a terrible husband and father, who leaves home to get another fix. This time, however, he ends up being abducted by aliens and is turned into a guinea pig as depicted through a series of crazy imagery and body horror that’ll make the squeamish look away. Barry returns to Cape Town…only, that’s not really Barry. An alien is in control (or perhaps it’s a clone of sorts) and goes on the craziest of vacations this alien could have bargained for, as it is assaulted in a variety of ways.

Green could probably not have been better cast for this role. Not looking to insult the man, but his chiseled features and intense stare lend themselves perfectly to be this “alien” on tour character. He looks the same as Barry, but he fits the role of the alien doppelganger perfectly. His performance choices go in weird directions at times – and in another movie, they may have ruined it. Fortunately, there is nothing really conventional in this movie, so his spastic movement, odd sounds, and intense stare only add to the oddity of this movie. 

The one thing that felt sorely missing was a blatant lack of Die Antwood.   If ever there was a film where Ninja and Yolandi would have fit right in, it is this one. Of course, that’s more of a joke than an actual criticism of the film, but if you’re familiar with this South African rap duo, then you know I’m right. Their music videos feel like they could have inspired some of the visuals in this film. While I would say Fried Barry isn’t my cup of tea, I can’t deny that it achieves what it seems to set out to do, earning the Decent Watch rating with a huge “NOT SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE” disclaimer.

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