Cocaine Bear Review: Banks’ third film is a hilariously fun bloodbath

For her third film as a director, Elizabeth Banks puts a horror-comedy spin on a bizarre true story about a bear and some cocaine for an outrageously fun time with Cocaine Bear.

Loosely inspired by the real-life story of a black bear ingesting millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine in 1985, the film takes viewers into a small town in Georgia where the peaceful woodsy atmosphere turns into total chaos. After a black bear swallows a lot of cocaine that’s been dropped from by a careless drug smuggler, it becomes ferocious towards anyone it comes across. From local hikers getting lost in nature to drug dealers looking for the rest of their shipment, no one is safe from this bear’s bloodthirsty rage. So as different people enter the forest throughout the day, they find themselves in a dangerous game of life and death with a coked-up bear ready to rip them limb from limb.

Banks doesn’t play it safe with Cocaine Bear whatsoever and goes all-out in delivering a great blend of horror and comedy. On the horror side, the film delivers the gory goods mainly because of its titular bear’s ferocious nature that’s heightened by its sudden coke addiction. With it completely high out of its mind, this bear holds nothing back in tearing people apart and turning this pleasant forest into a horrific slaughterhouse. The visceral kills this bear deals out make it a daunting force to deal with and there’s a sequence of it chasing an ambulance trying to escape that’ll leave viewers jaw-dropped by the toughness of the bear and sheer brutality of the scene. Cocaine Bear definitely has some gore galore that make its titular bear going on a coked-out rampage scary as hell and Banks shows some skills in creating suspenseful scenes.

Cocaine Bear delivers some great comedy as well with some of the great running gags and chemistry between the cast. Even while there are some jokes that end up being flat, the cast is so invested into the film’s southern charm mentality that you can’t help but love some of the personalities. Isaiah Whitlock Jr. appearing as a detective is just a treat for the audience and the pairing of Alden Ehrenreich and O’Shea Jackson Jr. is just perfect. They’re kind of like good drug dealer/bad drug dealer and Ehrenreich’s Eddie is especially funny for how hilariously distraught he can be from his wife’s recent passing. Plus, seeing this generally happy batch of characters thrown into full-blown panic is endlessly hilarious.

Nothing compares to how hilarious the bear can be though because its cocaine addiction can turn from vicious to very funny with one whiff of the stuff. Often, the bear can be distracted by just the mere sight or smell of cocaine and it acts as a way for there to be some lightness in the darker moments of the film. We even get to see how cocaine has changed its family life and there’s nothing more adorable and stranger than seeing a coke-loving bear cub. Also, just seeing the bear be high and completely out of it is hilarious just on its own and there’s a sequence that sees the bear sleeping that’ll have audiences roaring with laughter.

Cocaine Bear definitely blends horror and comedy excellently through Banks’ direction, but it mostly rides off of the bizarreness of its concept. In terms of its story, Cocaine Bear can come off a little thin because its dynamics and relationships feel too bare bones. Often, you feel more invested into the characters’ personalities and humorous sides rather than their actual stories and it makes the moments focused on developing them a bit of a drag. The first act or so can especially feel slow since it takes a little while for the bear to interact with the main cast, so you feel like you’re waiting for something to happen. Also, small story threads like a group of knife-wielding teenagers and Eddie and Daveed’s game of 20 Questions could’ve been built up better so that they have more impact. Frankly, Cocaine Bear is more fun when it just sees its characters, including the bear, just riding through the chaos. So anything aside from that chaos just doesn’t have that same hook.

With Cocaine Bear, Banks totally leans into the strangeness of the real story and spirals it into a beastly horror experience with some good comedic bite to boot. Its fun might only exist through its bonkers concept, but it features an easy to love cast that’ll make you laugh and are the perfect prey for this drugged-up bear to hunt for a hilariously bloody good time.


Watch the Trailer Here:

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