Cocaine Bear

Verdict: This horror-comedy delivers exactly what you'd expect from a movie titled Cocaine Bear; it is ridiculous, gory and so much fun.

  • Ray Liotta, Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr.
  • February 24th 2023
  • Elizabeth Banks

An American black bear consumes cocaine and goes on a wild killing spree in this horror-comedy.

As far as movie titles go, they don’t get much more outrageous and sensational than Cocaine Bear.

The horror-comedy, directed by Elizabeth Banks, is inspired by a true event that occurred in 1985 – an American black bear discovered and consumed a duffel bag full of cocaine that had been dropped in the wilderness by drug smugglers.

In the real story, the poor bear simply overdosed and was found dead in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia, but in this imaginary tale, she goes on a manic killing spree.

Those at risk of a run-in with ‘Pablo Escobear’ include forest ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), animal rights activist Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), local mum Sari (Keri Russell), her daughter Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), her friend Henry (Christian Convery) and drug dealers Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), who are trying to recover their supply for their boss Sydney (the late Ray Liotta).

Cocaine Bear lives up to its ridiculous title. Banks knew exactly what audiences wanted from a movie titled Cocaine Bear and gives us that.

It owns its silliness and is absurd, gruesome and very funny. It does not take itself remotely seriously and this light-hearted tone is established at the outset with a pair of Scandinavian hikers called Olaf and Elsa (presumably a nod to Frozen) and a quote sourced from Wikipedia.

Sure, you could easily criticise it for being rather one-note and for having thin, stereotypical characters. But, at the end of the day, everyone has come to see a bear take cocaine and kill a bunch of humans and it delivers upon that promise.

The deaths are inventive, brutal and darkly funny and definitely not for people who dislike gore.

However, these kills happen with a tongue-in-cheek tone so they aren’t scary, they’re just totally gross. It’s best to watch it with a crowd to hear everyone else’s reactions!

The novelty of the concept definitely wears off in the second half, but at only 95 minutes, Cocaine Bear moves swiftly and doesn’t outstay its welcome.

The jokes don’t hit every single time but there are so many of them that the success rate is still pretty high.

Martindale and Convery are the funniest of the bunch, although everyone hams up their characters and makes them as funny as possible.

In a cinematic landscape dominated by rehashing existing IP over and over, it feels refreshing to see something so bold and original as Cocaine Bear.

It isn’t objectively a good movie but it meets expectations and delivers one wickedly fun ride.

In cinemas from Friday 24th February.

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