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  Fried Barry Space Trippin'
Year: 2020
Director: Ryan Kruger
Stars: Gary Green, Chanelle de Jager, Brett Williams, Joey Cramer, Bianka Hartenstein, Sean Cameron Michael, Joe Vaz, Graham Clarke, Steve Wall, Hakeem Kai-Kazim, Tamer Burjaq, Jonathan Pienaar, Colin Moss, Brendan Sean Murray, Ryan Kruger
Genre: Comedy, Trash, Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Barry (Gary Green) is not pleasant company, unless you're at a bar with him and he will listen to any old rubbish you spout as you get drunker and drunker. His wife Suz (Chanelle de Jager) detests him for using her as his doormat, expecting his dinner on the table and failing to acknowledge they have a young son together, so when her haranguing gets too much after yet another all-night bender, he announces he is walking out on her - even Suz is kind of shocked he reacted at all. So off to the pub he goes, then to an apartment where he gets high on heroin, and then... he is abducted by space aliens.

No, really. The writer and director of Fried Barry was Ryan Kruger, a Brit who moved to South Africa to make music videos which by all accounts he was very successful at, and evidence of that short attention span was all over this feature length effort, which hopped from foot to foot as it was overeager to leave whatever scene was playing out to reach the next stop on Barry's journey. If you could take the piece's trash aesthetic which lionised the taking of drugs and casual sex to the point of, well, the point of existence, then you would have a lot better time with it than someone who liked such niceties as story and character.

Okay, that wasn't quite fair, there were a story and characters here, but what was actually important was the hyper tone which aimed to capture the ultimate trip, as Stanley Kubrick's poster for 2001: A Space Odyssey would have had it. If being possessed by aliens from another planet - or another dimension, it was not clear - was mind-expanding and consciousness-warping, then this was the perfect encapsulation of that experience, one that would be out of reach to anyone on Earth unless some space visitors genuinely did decide to pay a visit and move us up to the next level of cosmic awareness for good.

At least, that's what you surmise is happening, when what may be going on is the aliens merely taking Barry's ripped but ageing body for a joyride (star Green was no actor, but a stuntman who Kruger would guide from behind the camera to look spaced out). Demonstrating no shortage of invention on what must have been slender means, somewhat akin to the rock videos he was used to, the director used Rolf de Heer's Australian movie of the nineties Bad Boy Bubby as a template (there was even a character named after that titular weirdo), yet there was more to it than simply recreating scenes, as Kruger was yet another twenty-first century genre filmmaker with great affection for the eighties.

Therefore Barry, post-abduction, could be seen as a crazed E.T. and even more than that, like the grown-up version of the kid from Flight of the Navigator (a touchstone here to the extent that star Joey Cramer appears on a television early on). John Carpenter even had a thankyou in the end credits - Starman could have been the tasteful incarnation of Fried Barry, if you wanted to read that into the proceedings. Along his way, mostly on foot and staring straight ahead, he took masses of drugs, had almost as much sex (causing one prostitute partner to get pregnant and give birth in less than a minute), rescued a group of kids from a child-abducting maniac, and eventually attained a zen-like oneness with creation, all in the space of about forty-eight hours. Blatantly aimed at manufacturing a cult audience for itself, it was colourful enough to get away with such naked ambition and prove a tonic for those hardy viewers who could stay the course. Music and soundscape (which is very effective) by Haezer.

[Premieres 7 May 2021 as a Shudder Original & Exclusive.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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