Thursday, May 06, 2021

Fried Barry, on Shudder

He is sort of like John Carpenter’s Star Man, but with way more heroin. An alien temporarily takes over the body of a Capetown junkie and for those unfortunate enough to know the titular character, the change is a considerable improvement. The visitor is about to learn all about the sex, drugs, and violence our world has to offer in Ryan Kruger’s Fried Barry, which premieres tomorrow on Shudder.

Barry does not care about his put-upon wife or his little boy. His only interest is his next fix. Years of self-neglect have taken an obvious toll, but for some reason, an alien explorer chooses to abduct and posses his body. An hour later, the alien-controlled Barry has sexual encounters with a prostitute and a clubbing woman, who shouldn’t have wanted to touch him with a twenty-foot pole. He seems to have alien magnetism. He also has healing powers. However, communication remains a challenge for him, which leads to all kinds of misunderstandings with Capetown’s seedier denizens.

Kruger’s aesthetic makes Joe Begos’s
Bliss look like a Merchant-Ivory production. It gets exhausting to watch him pile on the body horror and nearly Troma-level of gore. Yet, despite its one-trick nature, it is easy to see why Shudder acquired the film. You really have to be impressed by Kruger’s willingness to wade (and revel) in the muck. Likewise, Gary Green is rather remarkable playing the guileless new Barry, in varying degrees of stoned and battered. It really is a performance that compares to Jeff Bridges in Star Man.

Likewise, Chanelle de Jager and Genevieve Tanya Detering inject a great deal of pathos and humanity into the film as his poor wife and the sex worker, who so fatefully crosses paths with Barry. Kruger and Green pointedly suggest the alien is more human in many ways than most of the mortal terrestrials he meets. Then they drive the point home over and over.

Fried Barry
is a go-for-broke film, but it is also episodic and repetitive. After half an hour, you should get everything to be got. Still, the film’s eagerness to keep going there is something of a feat unto itself. Recommended for hardcore cult movie fans, Fried Barry starts streaming tomorrow (5/7) on Shudder.