In today’s day and age, original films are rarely seen. Everything has either been done or plots have been recycled to the point where they’re redundant. Elizabeth Banks’ film, Cocaine Bear, strays away from the common movie formula and provides an oddball tale of a coked-out bear in the woods, desperately attacking the characters.
The title tells exactly what the audience should expect. In the woods, we follow a vast cast of characters from teenagers, a divorced mom, cops, and criminals. They almost survive against a rampaging bear who just consumed pounds of cocaine.
The movie is inspired by true events, where a black bear found cocaine stranded in the woods. This real-life bear died hours after eating the cocaine; however, Banks uses this event to create a slasher-style film that is original and outside the box.
Calling Cocaine Bear a horror movie is an understatement. Each time The Bear kills, it is gruesome. This movie has long, gut-churning scenes that will leave you speechless as well as allow its dark comedy to take center stage.
While the point of the movie is a bear tearing into its victims while under the influence of cocaine, it plays into this a little too much. It leaves little-to-no room for character development.
The only consistent character was The Bear, who kept its goal throughout the entire movie and even reveals a little more depth to it: it had bear cubs who also did cocaine.
The film also made it difficult to grow attached to most of the characters, because they were either killed off almost immediately or had no depth to them.
Most characters didn’t have a backstory prior to the film. The only other character who had some emotional depth was the grumpy cop, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr., with a soft spot for his pet dog, which seems to be the only side plot of the movie. Despite this, the actors portraying these characters did a good job embodying them, such as Kerri Russell portraying the overprotective mother who runs on top as one of the “final girls.”
Cocaine Bear is borderline ridiculous to the point where it felt like an absurd inside joke between Banks and the audience.
I felt it was exactly what it was supposed to be: a dark comedy with odd characters and an even odder, yet simple, premise. Not once did I feel bored or lost. I was engaged with the characters, whether it was joy and entertainment or frustration and annoyance.
I found myself shaking my head at certain parts of the film, like when the teenage characters portrayed a lack of common sense over the nature of cocaine or the paramedics forgot to close the back door of their ambulance as The Bear was approaching them in rage.
What slowed down the film for me was that it was one large chase scene. There wasn’t much depth in the characters or their backstories. The plot didn’t move nor wrap up. The surviving characters in the resolution go about their lives. Even The Bear and its cubs at the end of the movie are fine.
The movie is Rated-R for gore, language, and portrayal of drugs. It is currently in theaters now.