Cocaine Bear is the new horror comedy film directed by Elizabeth Banks. The film just made its way to theaters after a viral marketing campaign brought it from obscurity to being a release that many have been anxiously waiting to see for the past couple months. Despite receiving favorable reviews in its first week out, many are wondering if it lives up to its ridiculous premise or if it is just too stupid to spend an hour and a half watching. Let’s put our hiking boots on and head to the forest to find out.
The plot of the film borrows from a real-life event that took place in 1985 in Georgia when a shipment of cocaine was smuggled on a plane and then accidentally dropped in the wilderness to be then ingested by an American black bear. Although the real-life bear died shortly after, the film takes some creative liberties by shaping the event around the bear going on a murderous rampage instead of dying from the drug. Taking a strange real-life happenstance like this and turning it into an absurd horror comedy is hilariously ingenious in concept, but the execution is where it falters some.
Despite being a horror comedy, it does not succeed in either genre particularly well. The visual effects come across way too cheesy and fake to ever give a sense of tension or fear due to how poor the CGI can look at times and the fact that the camera cuts away from the kills at crucial moments, making it unsatisfying at times. The film also does not work particularly well as a comedy, as most of the dialogue is groan-worthy and the best jokes were already shown in the trailer. The lack of tension and good comedy ended up resulting in the 90-minute experience dragging a lot more than the marketing would lead you to believe.
This was the viewing experience I had with the film. However, upon talking to others and seeing some reviews online, I found that my sentiment was not shared by those who had watched it with packed crowds or were under the influence of alcohol. It was upon hearing this that I realized that my lack of enjoyment of the film could have come from the fact that I watched the film completely sober, in a low-populated theater where no one was laughing much. Perhaps if I had watched the film while making fun of it with friends after a couple of drinks, maybe I would have liked it more. This shows how the setting one watches a film in can completely change the overall experience.
Overall, Cocaine Bear is not high-quality cinema, but it isn’t trying to be that. If you are wanting to watch something that is cleverly written or well-made, then this probably doesn’t have much to offer you. But if you are in the mood for something that harkens back to schlocky B-movies of old while cracking open a cold one with your friends, this film might make you as happy as a bear trying cocaine for the first time.