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Late for a 30th birthday party, two brothers Sam and Nick and their girlfriends Christine and Liz decide to take a short cut. But this is bear country and when the foursome’s van blows a tire, it rouses the attention of a Grizzly.

Stupidly, the obnoxious Sam shoots and kills the curious creature, which is a huge mistake as its mate is just around the corner. Trapped in their van, the foursome must now try and outwit the cunning beast.

Shot using the same techniques as Open Water, Bear is a claustrophobic survival thriller that is a little hit and miss. It’s all very tense, and the action scenes work well (the slow destruction of the Porsche van by the bear is great), although I did get lots of motion blur on my Blu-ray player.

Using real bears really helps, but they aren’t menacing enough. Their big dopey eyes really just warm your heart, so you really can’t help but be on the bears’ side. On top of this, the characters aren’t worth caring about and do incredibly stupid things – like kiss a car instead of getting help when they have the chance.

Also the lead villain, Sam, who you really want to see get clawed to death ends up having a low-key, off-screen death scene. That was a real disappointment.

But Bear isn’t all that bad and, for an eco-horror fan like myself, is a welcome relief as there is no CGI to be seen. It makes me want to watch Day of the Animals, Grizzly and Prophecy all over again.

There’s also a lovely note from the film-makers at the end about the location, the Serengeti Animal Ranch in Acton, California, that was unfortunately destroyed by forest fire in 2009. Go to rebuildingtheranch.com to learn more.

Released 28 June