Cocaine Bear (2023)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve seen the incredible trailer for this film.

Cocaine Bear is, as advertised, a non-stop romp of comedy horror.

This movie is a breath of fresh air. It’s the exact opposite of any of the more recent films that seem to be all the rage. You know the ones. The ones so far up their own asses, we can see the director’s dental work. Whenever I hear the phrase, “elevated horror” I hear Jack Burton’s voice in my head opining, “I don’t even know what the hell that means.”

This is the kind of movie that looks back to an age when guys like Roger Corman and William Girdler made back in the old days with a cast of likeable characters in jeopardy chased by a monster. Like all good movie monsters, this one is sympathetic. She’s a mother black bear who stumbles upon a bunch of cocaine and well…she likes it. Her cubs like it too. This movie is so ballsy it even has kids trying coke, although they do spit it out. It offers no preachy eco or anti-drug messages. It does what movies were invented to do. Entertain! The kills are scary and the humor organic to the situation as batshit as it is. There’s no wink-wink self-aware bullshit here. It’s a bear high on cocaine killing people. That’s what you get.

The film clocks in at 90 minutes. Proof positive that a movie doesn’t need to be 3 hours long to be good. It’s a tight script, weaving together several sub-plots and likable characters together with enough over-the top action and gore to satisfy even the most jaded B-movie fan. 

The performances are good. Despite the short running time, each character is given enough development that we feel it when something bad happens to them. Ray Liotta couldn’t have asked for a better swansong even if he’s not looking his best here.

The music by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh strikes the perfect balance between the ‘80s and 2023 and the camera work and editing are as good as any movie with twice the budget. 

Cocaine Bear will no doubt usher in a new era of low-budget copycats. Attack of the Meth Gator has already been announced. Kudos to Universal for greenlighting such a fun concept and bigger kudos to director Elizabeth Banks for pulling it off. Lest I forget WETA who have done an excellent job with the bear. Remember when animal fur was hard to pull off in computer generated characters? It’s damn near perfect here.

See this one with a like-minded friend or a group of friends and you’re going to have a good time. It likely won’t play the same on a quiet evening at home. Hopefully, its success will make horror movies fun again. I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in ages.

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