Cocaine Bear fails to live up to its entertaining premise

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

Rating: 1.5/5

Cocaine Bear should have leaned more towards “cocaine” and less towards “bear.”

The movie follows a black bear in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, where several duffel bags filled with cocaine have been dropped from a plane. The bear has subsequently developed an addiction to the substance and now attacks anyone it finds in the forest.

This movie is a comedy-horror film, and unfortunately it doesn’t do a good job of blending these differing genres. The comedy can be quite funny at times, but it’s so infrequent that it feels like an afterthought, thrown into scenes when it’s been too long between bear attacks.

On the topic of bear attacks, the horror in the film falls flat as well. There’s only so much different horror available when dealing with a bear: it can maul you with its teeth and it can maul you with its claws. And that’s exactly what the bear does in every horror scene. 

The horror comes from the scenes where the bear catches someone; on several occasions, the film shows the bear brutally ripping into the people it has caught. This felt cheap; good horror is tense, unsettling and makes you fear what comes next. But the mauling scenes were less horrifying and more disgusting. We know they’re being mauled and don’t need to see the bear ripping someone to pieces for nearly a full minute. By that point, any tension is gone and you just start to feel sick.

The human characters are pretty standard for a horror film: those that aren’t cliche and boring are one-dimensional and annoying. It’s fairly obvious who lives and who dies the moment they show up on screen.

Early on, it seems like the bear kills a young girl, which would have been unusual for the genre and created interesting potential for her mother’s character, but it turns out she got away off screen and is nearly unharmed, which ruined that potential intrigue.

Much of my disappointment with Cocaine Bear comes from what I’d expected going in. The premise is so wacky and goofy that I hoped the movie would follow suit. And there are times where the film delivers; it knows that a movie about a bear on coke is absurd. But more often than not, the movie just uses cocaine as an excuse for the bear to be aggressive, turning it into yet another monster movie.

If you find yourself intrigued by the premise, give it a shot. It can serve as a fun, mindless movie to watch and enjoy with friends, though frankly even here the gore may be a bit too much. But if you watch it for a combination of comedy and horror, you may find that its compromise falls flat.

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