Cocaine Bear (Banks, 2023) – Movie Review

Cocaine Bear is inspired by true events, in which a drug trafficker accidently knocks himself out upon jumping out of a plane and falls to his gruesome death. Falling like snow around him however are bricks upon bricks of cocaine. The bricks fall into the forest below where they are stumbled upon by a black bear. Ingesting a literal (or not far off) ton of cocaine the bear has a heart attack and dies. Or did it? This movie is meant to explore the possibility of the bear actually surviving his newfound drug habit. So, let’s take a look at another creature feature/nature horror- Cocaine Bear!

Cocaine Bear – Details

Distributor: Universal Pictures
Production Companies: Lord Miller Productions, Brownstone Productions, & Jurassic Party Productions
Director: Elizabeth Banks

Producers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Elizabeth Banks, Max Handelman, Brian Duffieldm, & Aditya Sood
Scriptwriters: Jimmy Warden
Main Cast: Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Cristian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, & Ray Liotta
Released: 24th February 2023

Running Time: 95 Minutes
Certificate: 15

Story of Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear' Review: So Bad It's Good? No, Just Gonzo Goofy
Image Source: Variety

As mentioned before the story starts when a drug trafficker falls to his death. However, he managed to unload a lot of the cocaine, having it fall down into the forest below. Where it is found by a big black bear. With the bear wreaking havoc among locals, staff, and tourists of the National Park. Chaos ensues as two children skiving off school visit the park to go see a waterfall, and the cocaine’s owner sends his son and Daveed to go collect it. The substance wreaks havoc on the bear and turns it into an overly aggressive animal with an addiction to cocaine. With the bear shown to attack people who are covered in the substance. Being attracted by the cocaine rather than the actual people.

Later on in the movie it’s revealed the black bear is actually a mother. Which may explain some of the unparalleled levels of aggression. A cocaine riddled brain trying to protects it’s cubs.

Analysis of Cocaine Bear

Human Characters

Cocaine Bear' Review: She Never Forgets Her Lines - The New York Times
Image Source: The New York Times

Usually in creature features/nature horrors, the human characters and story aspects are the worst parts of the film. Especially in those that are B movies, or B movie in premise, like Cocaine Bear. O’Shea Jackson Jr and Alden Ehrenreich where brilliant as a buddy duo. Their chemistry is definitely on the biggest draws of the film. Just like his father, when he was the best character in Anaconda, O’Shea is the biggest attraction in this film. He plays Daveed brilliantly and has more to play with, within the script. Whereas Alden is more limited as he plays a grieving father, as his wife as died from cancer. His performance is brilliant it just doesn’t provide nearly enough great moments as Daveed does.

The two child characters don’t hinder the flow of the movie either. Henry was a standout and is arguably the best child character of any horror film. He was entertaining, comedic, and heart-warming.

Special Effects

Elizabeth Banks reveals one Cocaine Bear character had a gorier death
Image Source: Entertainment Weekly

Creature features are reliant on their Monsters and their effects. The titular Cocaine Bear looks brilliant and is perfectly animated with it moving realistically in the film. Animators clearly did their research into black bears and made a perfect depiction. Attacks were brutal and a good mix of on and off camera. A lot of the times the action happens mostly just off screen, freeing up some more money for other expensive scenes. CB didn’t have this problem, with it finding a near perfect balance much like the beloved king of the genre- Jaws.

Going too far

The true story of Elizabeth Banks' Cocaine Bear explained
Image Source: Entertainment Weekly

There is a couple of moments I spotted upon rewatching that cross the line between daft fun and just daft. With one scene in particular showing the bear doing an actual “line” of the substance of a corpses’ leg.

Summary of Cocaine Bear

Film review: Cocaine Bear - Richer Sounds Blog | Richer Sounds Blog
Image Source: Richer Sounds Blog

Cocaine Bear is one of the better creature features of recent years. Stemming from an actual event that happened, but showing creativity in how they expanded on the story. The filmmaker really showed ingenuity and a knack for seeking out good inspiration for their film. With the bear moving very realistically and the film being inspired by true events, it really shows how much work went into researching for the film. That needs to applauded as it really does add to the film. Characters for once are not boring. With CB breaking the trope of having dull human characters in creature features. It’s never going to win an Oscar but it’s a damn good horror filled with brilliantly bloody bear attacks and likable, comedic characters. CB would definitely be Dwight K Shrute’s favourite film!

Overall Rating: 7 – Respectable!

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