“Cocaine Bear”: The one killer you should never run from


Courtesy of Universal Studios

“Cocaine Bear” is a masterpiece of wit and gore that leaves audience members at the edge of their seat as the titular bear tears through unsuspecting victims.

Joey Gonzalez, Life Editor

This review contains spoilers for “Cocaine Bear”

Five stars. That’s it.

Just from the title alone, you get everything you need to know about this horror-comedy. “Cocaine Bear” is exactly that: a bear that goes on a hilarious, gorey rampage as it tries to find more of its favorite controlled substance, mauling anyone that gets in its way. The kills are brutal and the killer is high. Using its slasher aesthetics along with the quintessential ’80s detective/drug dealer storyline, “Cocaine Bear” sets the stage for a gruesome comedy film that will have you simultaneously cracking up and wincing. Body parts are flying, people are dying and you’re having a grand ‘ole time.

Directed by Elizabeth Banks, the film itself takes place in 1985 across several locations, all tied together by their connection to a missing cocaine shipment. The dealer, who dropped the packages from a plane before it crashed, was found dead in Tennessee after failing to deploy his parachute. His connections lead the police to known kingpin Syd White (Ray Liotta) in St. Louis. He sends his son, Eddie, and his right hand man—no pun intended—to recover the shipment that was dropped over Chattahoochee National Forest. Detective Bob pursues the two and heads to the park himself. Already in Georgia, a middle schooler Dee Dee decides to skip school with her best friend Henry because she hopes to paint on the waterfall in the park. Her mom Sari returns from work and has to go find her daughter at the falls. All of them are blissfully unaware of the murderous bear amped up on cocaine that awaited them in the woods. Even the eccentrically inept park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale) has no idea exactly what is lurking in the forest.

The characters all converge on the forest, but Dee Dee and Henry are the first to encounter the cocaine shipment, hilariously trying to eat some because of course they do. The bear smells the powdery substance and attacks the children, separating them in the process. Park ranger Liz, Peter (Jesse Tyler Furgusson) and Sari find Henry in the aftermath, with none of them taking his warnings seriously until the cocaine bear returns. Peter and Henry hide in trees while an injured Dee Dee attempts to go find help, taking the only gun with her. Peter, the wildlife expert covered in cocaine, meets a gruesome end before Sari and Henry flee, still trying to find Dee Dee.

Eddie and Daveed arrive at the park and get attacked by a local gang who are quickly dispatched. The two then use one of the boys to find the remaining cocaine, but discover that Detective Bob has beat them to it. The showdown is temporarily interrupted by the cocaine bear, whose insane sense of smell gave her incredible timing. The other two boys in the “gang” flee to the ranger station and where they encounter a wounded Liz. The group is quickly attacked by the bear and one of them meets a violently gorey accidental end, the other left for the cocaine bear. Paramedics arrive on the scene and only find Liz, who is barely able to warn them before they too are attacked by the bear. They flee in the ambulance in an insane bear chase sequence that had me on the edge of my seat. 

The final showdown of the film takes place on the edge of the Chattahoochee Falls, where Dee Dee, Sari and Henry have found themselves cornered by the drug dealers. Syd has joined Eddie and Daveed in the park, worried about the amount of lost product. Despite the warnings about the bear, Syd is determined to recover as much cocaine as possible, not understanding the kill count that the bear had already racked up. Mama bear soon returns to her cave and continues her rampage on the remaining characters, but I won’t spoil the ending for you.

“Cocaine Bear” is frankly a comedic and horror masterpiece, combining witty humor with some of the most gruesome violence I’ve seen to date. Every death is so memorable and somehow outdoes the one before it, building itself up to the final showdown and leaving a trail of cocaine and body parts in its wake. The soundtrack perfectly taps into the ’80s aesthetic and builds the suspense of the film. The emergence of the bear is even perfectly queued with recognizable and chilling sound bites that let everyone in the theater know that death and cocaine are coming. The characters are hilariously oblivious to their fates, making the violence almost seem more excessive. But it is a wild animal after all so there are no stops to how far she will go for her next fix.

If you’re not a fan of gore or brutally violent deaths, “Cocaine Bear” might not be your movie pick of the year. But I must say, it was really entertaining. The cast is honestly insane, with each cast member entertaining in their own right. The plot can be a bit confusing to follow, but frankly who’s watching “Cocaine Bear” for a flawless storyline. It really is a masterpiece of comedy and graphic violence, creating this year’s iconic killer in such a memorable fashion.

“Cocaine Bear” is currently showing in theaters near you, so get ready for a wildly violent ride.