NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on May 4, 2021
What is Fried Barry About?
Fried Barry follows the drug addicted Barry (Gary Green) after a drug fueled bender renders him susceptible to being abducted by aliens who possess his body and return him to earth. With the alien now in control of his body, Barry is taken for a ride as the alien experiences the strange behavior of the human race, from sex to violence and everything in between.
I’m Sorry… What?
To describe my feelings about a film like Fried Barry feels like I’m going to be describing the experience of taking magic mushrooms while still high, but let’s give it a shot. I can’t just to positive/negative like I normally would, because that implies this film can be easily carved up. This might seem a little muddled and not make much sense… which makes if obscenely appropriate for a review of a film like Fried Barry.
It was around the moment that I saw a large needle being inserted into the urethra of a large erect penis in order to insert the alien into Barry’s drug-addled body that it dawned on me that I was in for a very weird experience, and I was not wrong in that assessment. Fried Barry is a movie that is more of an experience than an actual story, less of a character arc and more a series of vignettes that are sewn together by the common denominator of Barry.
You know how the Alien movie has a lot of sexual subtext? Fried Barry looked at that movie and called it a coward for daring to use any subtext. For almost the entire first half we are lead through a checklist of the oddities of sex of all kinds, gay and straight. From blowjobs that end in bloody facials to a 14 second pregnancy complete with a closeup on the birth, it’s like if a sex education course did all of the cocaine and tried to show you everything it could think of at once. It’s not horrific, but it’s weird.
“It’s not horrific, but it’s weird” might actually be the tagline I would suggest Fried Barry put on the poster because it’s not exactly that scary. Sure there are moments that are going to make the audience feel uneasy (Every male who read “Large needle being inserted into the urethra” is probably feeling well beyond uneasy) but there’s no real horror to be found here beyond the initial concept of an alien taking over a human body.
The weirdness is certainly well directed though, most of it just looking at regular everyday things and pointing out how honestly strange some of them are. The blank page performance of Barry is what sells this, for most of the film he is just completely blank which means he’s not really reacting to anything because he doesn’t know how. This helps put the weirdness of human interaction on full display, you never really think about how weird people look during a sex act until one of them is little more than a mannequin who screams occasionally.
Weirdness in a film can be a lot of fun, a good strange arthouse film can be enjoyable because of the pure absurdity on display (look up Greener Grass as a great example of a film that’s weird as hell and obscenely watchable)… and that’s where Fried Barry stumbles.
The absurdity isn’t over the top enough or fun enough to really enjoy, but it’s also not dark enough for the weirdness to shock. It’s just kind of there, being weird and sexual like a guy on the bus who keeps licking his lips and touching himself. Sure, at first you kind of just wonder what’s going on and why this a thing that you’re seeing but after a while you find yourself wanting to look away and hope that maybe he’ll stop before he ends up fighting some other weirdo with a chainsaw (Yeah, there’s a chainsaw fight in this movie… sadly, not as exciting as that should be.)
I’m not saying this film is bad, there’s too much raw talent on display here for it to just be an objectively bad film but… well, let’s put some emphasis on the word Raw. The director clearly has a fantastic eye for visuals and can put together a striking film, for a feature debut this is certainly interesting but I can’t wait to see what happens when the rough edges are sanded back and we can see this raw talent get a little bit more focused.
Fried Barry is interesting, to say the least. It’s a weird experience to watch, the kind of film where looking away for 3 seconds will cause you to wonder what the hell happened in the time you weren’t staring at the screen. However, after a while, the weirdness stops being interesting and just ends up being a little silly. It’s still worth a look for some of the clever visuals and showing how to tell an interesting story with minimal words spoken by the main character, but I can’t really think of it as much more than a curiosity.