You can’t help but have high hopes for a film called Fried Barry so thankfully expectations have been massively exceeded. Writer/director Ryan Kruger extends his 2017 short of the same name into a phenomenal mind-f**k masterpiece that transcends nano-budget B movie trappings.
The script doesn’t let up as we’re swiftly introduced to Barry (brilliantly played by Gary Green), a perpetually frazzled, financially struggling, drug addled dad/scumbag, who looks like a hybrid of Lee Van Cleef, Julian Beck (Kane from Poltergeist 2) and Dieter Laser from The Human Centipede films.
After walking out on his wife and young son, Barry goes pub, gets tousled on heroin and is then either possessed by extra-terrestrials or has the type of frighteningly heightened hallucination that would suggest he’s been cajoled onto a toad licking frenzy by a psycho Shaman from Mars.
We’re then swiftly booted face first into Barry’s odyssey, as our antihero twitches through a night-club like an emaciated T-800, has a dance floor freak-out with hostile gurning before going on, entranced, to get laid. Barry saves a life, takes another, has a chainsaw fight and births a child at breakneck speed. The pace accelerates and madness amplifies as Fried Barry buds into a clunk of drunk, cinematic carnage.
Morose, mechanical humming purrs beneath the surface of early scenes, suggesting something is about to go down and instilling an air of dread, but this is just one component of a gloriously fractured/ multifaceted soundscape/score by Haezer that sprouts accordingly to emphasise or encapsulate what’s happening in Barry’s mind/world.
Pumping every encounter with uncertainty while raising questions about the nature of reality/perception: has Barry really been abducted? Is he hallucinating? Is he even Barry at all? While the overriding question (what the hell is going on?) is locked in the viewers’ minds as much as the protagonist’s, so keeps us constantly engrossed.
At a time when we’ve all had to adhere to more logic and rules than we’re used to, Fried Barry feels like a kind of a gift-wrapped snow globe full of cocaine and spangle. The debauched adventures are captured in the colliding styles of art-house, social realism and trash/video nasty; like Andrea Arnold helming a Troma produced documentary about the Chuckle Brothers in hell, as FB feels equally grounded and embroiled in dark fantasy.
Prepare to have your cerebral cortex kneaded by fiends then stir fried in man jam, for Fried Barry is an unapologetically bonkers, ugly/pretty, provocative and dazzlingly juvenile cine-excretion, like marinating your eyes in Vimto to access a wormhole into Disney’s worst nightmare. It’s brave, hilarious and all kinds of wrong but fans of weird cinema should love every minute.
Fried Barry will stream exclusively to Shudder on 7th May