Review: “Cocaine Bear,” the most intriguing title you’ll find in 2023 [MUSE]


Ryan Zhang

“Cocaine Bear.” It’s a title that made me think twice and then I came across the line, “Based on true events” and it truly drew my attention. In fact this event did happen to some extent. In 1985, a dead bear really was found in northern Georgia among 40 opened plastic containers with cocaine. However, the rest of the film strays from reality. 

Directed by Elizabeth Banks and based on a script from Jimmy Warden, the movie released on Feb. 24 this year. While “Cocaine Bear” is still playing in theaters, the Hollywood film continues to see a number of mixed reviews. Either you love it or hate it.

I find myself in the latter. Although Banks aims towards a focus of both comedy and horror, the movie doesn’t excel at either one. The comedy is mostly driven by dialogue and your average horror story’s dumb characters and their questionable attempts at survival. In the aspect of horror, as terrifying as a bear gone crazy may be, the film strays from the classic horror film filled with gloomy lighting and anticipation. Instead, where this film mostly shines is gore. Unafraid of repeatedly using gory scenes, we see brains, guts, and just about anything you can think of. Though “Cocaine Bear” is far bloodier than most classic horror stories, it holds many similarities to the iconic “Jaws” series, following a plot like most deadly animal films and asking the question: “What if this were to actually happen?”

The premise is understandable, yet ridiculous. Placed in 1985, the movie replays the story of its source material, showing how a drug dealer dropped cocaine throughout the wilderness of Georgia. From here, the film deviates toward fiction. We follow the story of a drugged bear as it rampages throughout the forest, attacking anyone in sight. Amid this rampage, a group of cops, criminals, kids and tourists join the fray and as each group comes face to face with each other and the bear, we watch the chaos that ensues. 

Though the story and its characters feel mostly unrealistic, the movie successfully answers the question: “What would a bear high on cocaine do?” and executes the answer realistically. The dialogue was slow at times and the jokes never hit their mark, but that’s clearly subjective. Overall, the pacing was effective and it was entertaining to watch a crazed bear. Many people today only want the highest quality in the movie industry and “Cocaine Bear” was not a masterpiece by any means. This 2023 film takes a step back, resembling a 1980s title. The film offers a joyride of chaotic and dumb fun and gives exactly what you sign up for. It’s not something I’d watch again nor one that I would recommend among other choices, but if you need something different and deadly animal horrors are your sort of thing, it might be worth a watch.

On this blog, members of the Carmel High School chapter of the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists (and the occasional guest writer) produce curations of all facets of popular culture, from TV shows to music to novels to technology. We hope our readers always leave with something new to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.