Fried Barry is deranged, repulsive, juvenile, borderline pornographic, and one of the most memorable, visually arresting, and unique movies I've seen in ages. Hailing from music video director Ryan Kruger, the film tells the disgusting yet riveting story of a junkie in South Africa whose body is taken for a joy ride by an extraterrestrial through the nihilistic world he calls home. For most of its run time, Fried Barry is not a movie where an alien learns to love life from its human host; in fact, it is the antithesis of any wholesome alien/human narrative you can picture. A sliver of decency is found within the climax, naturally, with the nihilism only being everything preceding it, but the momentum of Fried Barry's narrative thrust is depravity, and I couldn't not watch it.
To describe Fried Barry without spoiling its contents is an impossibility, and a disservice to those with the constitution and willingness to view its mad genius. In simple terms, it's like a drug-fueled descent into the heart of darkness, but Fried Barry feels steeped in the bananas art that influenced it. Simply put, it's as if Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Crank, and Mandy were ground up into a powder, snorted through a straw made from the tunnel scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and into the nose of Under the Skin.
The film exposes itself from frame one, carrying the billing of "A Ryan Kruger Thing" in its opening titles, which prompts the question that this isn't simply a movie -- it's an experience, a night out in the clubs that becomes a nightmare at every corner. A cavalier and wanton disregard for anything sensible, the film is powered by Kruger's vision but piloted by the tremendous work of star Gary Green, who delivers the best alien-in-a-human-body performance since Vincent D'Onofrio in Men in Black.
With his first starring role, Green delivers an iconic style of movement and dead-pan comedy that delights, horrifies, and constantly feels fresh. Green is offered a brief moment of playing the actual Barry, a burnt-out ne'er-do-well with few prospects in life and seemingly no bottom to fall into, and though this set-up is necessary for what is to come, it's not where he's at his best. Once possessed, though, Green personifies this being in a man's skin with layers, contorting his face into unnatural positions and bringing a physicality that makes him seem like a master of the art.
Fried Barry is like watching something you know that you shouldn't be seeing. A television flipping channels at three in the morning between the mad programming that only appeals to anyone else who is awake at this hour, be they sober or impaired. It's dirty, nihilistic, perverted, and not for the squeamish, but those willing to buckle up and endure its boundary-defying absurdity will find something that's never not entertaining.
Under no circumstances can I recommend that everyone watch Fried Barry; it's sure to offend and its frenetic style of insanity is not for all palettes, but I found it to be one of the most compelling examples of the limits of filmmaking and bad taste in years. Director and co-writer Ryan Kruger has a brain we must cherish, a style that feels fresh, and a sensibility that will make him infamous, while star Gary Green is destined to become a cult icon. Fried Barry defies all the odds by being its own type of animal, and then mutilating that animal in front of the audience.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Fried Barry will premiere on Shudder Friday, May 7th.