Movies from Swank: Cocaine Bear

Will SorgMovies Guy

Perhaps the best compliment that I could give the film Cocaine Bear is that it was watchable enough that I could finish it. In fairness, that is not a high bar as pretty much the only movie I’ve seen that was so bad that I couldn’t finish it is 50 Shades of Black, a 50 Shades of Grey parody film. This is all a roundabout way to say that I find Cocaine Bear to be borderline unwatchable. 

The film was heavily marketed off of its simple concept: What if a bear did hardcore drugs and then killed a bunch of people? Admittedly, on paper this is a really fun idea and reminds me of similarly simple yet insane movie concepts like the Wisconsin samurai ghost slasher film Blood Beat or the accidentally funny Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. However, there’s a problem with drawing inspiration from “so bad it’s good” horror films. Trying to replicate that unbeatable alchemy that stems from hilariously bad concepts means that you more often than not just make a really bad movie. To me, this is what has happened with Cocaine Bear. 

I don’t know if this movie has any jokes. Yes, it is a horror comedy film, but if you take out all the lines where characters awkwardly explain the concept of the movie to the audience, I don’t know if there would be any jokes left. We get it. A bear is doing drugs. It is not funny enough to sustain an hour and a half movie and the violence isn’t either. Here’s the thing about this movie’s weird brand of violence. Typically in the kinds of monster movies that this film is clearly taking a lot of inspiration from, the deaths that happen in the film are either meant to frighten the audience or it’s meant to provide some thrill due to horror fans’ desire for creative kills and whatnot. This film is neither scary nor creative and it also breaks one of the biggest rules of horror. 

Typically, you want the audience invested in the victims of the monster or, in this case, the cocaine bear. The film does not have a single character that is likable, fun to watch, funny, relatable, or interesting. So when a film like this is lacking, any characters with those characteristics typically are so unlikable and antagonistic that the audience enjoys seeing them get picked off by the monster. However, in this film, the bear just kinda kills a bunch of normal people and a few of the more vaguely empathetic characters and the whole tone of the movie feels very conflicted. A park ranger is given perhaps one of the most brutal deaths in the movie, and all she did was be kind of annoying and bad at her job. 

There’s such a clear lack of any true creative vision. There are so many inconsequential characters and side plots with none of them reaching any satisfying conclusion because they’re done in the safest, most cliche way possible. The bear itself doesn’t really have any menace to it and it also is never really all that funny; it’s too anthropomorphic while also lacking any distinct personality beyond liking cocaine. I feel like the whole film has that strange feeling of lacking any emotional or textual depth while also not really making up for it in the entertainment end of things. 

There are countless movies that I will watch over and over that have practically zero artistic merit or true craft behind them simply because they are so fun to watch. This is not one of them; it is a hollow attempt at recreating the magic of “so bad it’s good” films. The more I write about this waste of resources, the more my contempt for it grows. It is a mean spirited, uninteresting slog that is constantly begging for a reaction but earns nothing. Not a single laugh or a moment of terror to be found in this one.