Starring Gary Green, Sean Cameron Michael, Graham Clarke
Written by Ryan Kruger
Directed by Ryan Kruger
Writer/director/actor Ryan Kruger moved to South Africa in 2008 after making music videos for South African metal bands since 2004. He has appeared in several TV series and movies including Warrier (2019) and Bloodshot (2020) and made several short films such as The Screen Behind the Mirror (2009) and The Time Travelers (2013). In 2017 he made a short film called Fried Barry, about the life of a heroin addict in Cape Town, South Africa, played by Gary Green. The short has won several awards and is now a feature film, starring Green, which explores the consequences of too many drugs, lots of sex, and even alien abduction. After having its U.S. debut at Cinequest Film Festival in March, Kruger’s first feature film Fried Barry, which is being sold by Rock Salt Releasing, is screening at Cannes virtual Marche on June 24th and 25th and will also compete at this year’s 24th Fantasia International Film Festival in August.
Fried Barry tells the story of a heroin addict named Barry, who lives in Cape Town with his wife and child, but can’t seem to kick his habit. Director Ryan Kruger and the actor who plays Barry, Gary Green, have worked together several times in the past and the clever casting of Green in this role turns out to be quite interesting to watch. Barry’s wife frantically begs him to give up drugs and take care of his family, but he just can’t quit. One day after arguing with his wife, he runs into a friend at a bar and they end up doing heroin together. The next thing he knows, a bright red light is enveloping him and carries him up into the sky. Barry is blinded by lights and undergoes some kind of violent procedure, including a probe of his genitals. In a psychedelic sequence, he sees duplicates of himself and is spit back out onto the street in Cape Town, transformed. Barry is not himself. It’s as if another being has taken over his body. Green is an expert at confused, blank facial expressions during his encounters with shady people on the street, which adds a bit of twisted humor to the story. The new version of Barry is enticed into a dance club, where he spastically dances and ingests more drugs, and soon he finds himself on the street again. Everyone he comes into contact with seems to be strangely attracted to him.
After having sex with several women, including an insane, graphic scene of a prostitute giving birth, Barry embarks on a dark, bloody journey. Is this really happening or is what Barry is experiencing just a metaphor for drug addiction? That question is left up to the audience, who whether they like it or not, are along for the dizzying ride. Green’s long, raggedy hair and skinny frame give him the appearance of a junkie and his portrayal of a man either possessed by an alien or on a very long drug trip, is sadly accurate, but entertaining. Drugs are bad, kids. Over the span of a few days, Barry briefly gets back with his wife and seems to be a pleasantly changed man; runs into every seedy character living on the streets of Cape Town; and after a bizarre encounter with a deranged serial killer involving a chain saw, he is sent to a psychiatric hospital. Throughout all the vulgar, drug-fueled madness, Barry remains dazed and silent, only speaking when he repeats something he heard.
I haven’t seen the short film Fried Barry is based on, but Green is the perfect choice for Barry. He brings a bewildered, childlike quality to the role that is fascinating to watch, and very human. Gritty cinematography and honest writing allow Kruger to succeed at conducting a social experiment in human depravity. Fried Barry authentically exposes the core of the human struggle and addiction, but also gives hope for recovery.
Fried Barry confronts the human condition and addiction in a journey fueled by drugs, aliens, and sex with honesty and humor.