It’s not the cleverest film title, but it is accurate. In Fried Barry we meet Barry (Gary Green), an alcoholic, drug-addled man whose gaunt features, bedraggled hair and thousand-yard stare give him the look of Aphex Twin – Aphex Twin’s twin, perhaps – except far from being a pioneering electronic artist, DJ and provocateur, Barry is just an arsehole.
Out on yet another bender, his wife and child at home, rotten old Barry is, apparently, abducted by aliens and returned to earth in a zombie-like state, detached from the world around him and seemingly possessed by a third party. As Barry stumbles around Cape Town from bar to club to crack den, he’s a wordless, upright husk as those around feed him pills, have sex with him, beat him up and imprison him. Taken at face value, it’s basically your standard body-snatcher movie as reimagined by ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ director Jonas Åkerlund.
But the exaggerated mannerisms of every other character in Ryan Kruger’s movie tell us that Barry is an unreliable narrator. We’re watching his version of events, which is a self-inflicted distortion of the truth. The alien hijacking Barry’s body was ingested slowly with chasers, and the situations that apparently just happen to him are, instead, consequences of a domino rally of bad decisions. These play out in sometimes hallucinatory ways, giving the film that wobbling, throbbing, askew feeling of recent ‘Cage-naissance’ (Nic Cage renaissance) hits such as Mandy, the psychedelic revenge flick, and Color Out Of Space, the, er, meteorite fallout alpaca-fusion movie. Indeed, this may be the finest Nic Cage film not to have Nic Cage in it.
Lots of films show people under the influence of drugs and drink, but few depict the loss of self control associated with substance use quite as horrifyingly as Fried Barry, because – whether on a big night out, a bender, or as part of something more long term – many of us have been that person ourselves. The following morning, most of us will declare that we will never, ever, ever do that again, and in some Black Mirror near-future, there’s a means of deep-faking your face onto Barry’s and forcing you to watch this movie as a deterrent against a relapse. Because, while Fried Barry is a wild, well-made and powerful movie, you’ll only want to sit through it once.
- Director: Ryan Kruger
- Starring: Gary Green, Chanelle de Jager, Brett Williams
- Release date: May 7 (Shudder)