NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy

The film opens with a young woman, Allison (Aubrey Plaza), sitting on a dock at the edge of a foggy lake. She goes into a cabin and sits in a room where she looks at a notepad.

Part One: The Bear in the Road

Allison is seen arriving at a cabin near the lake. She is staying at a sort of bed-and-breakfast with a couple, Gabe (Christopher Abbott) and Blair (Sarah Gadon), the latter being pregnant with Gabe’s child. Gabe learns from Allison that she is a former actress who is now a filmmaker, and she is out there for work on her next project.

Allison goes to swim in the lake, and she notices Gabe watching her. Later, she joins him and Blair for dinner. During their conversation, it becomes clear that Gabe and Blair have some aggressions toward each other, like Gabe criticizing Blair for drinking wine or her saying that he “used to be” a musician, as opposed to him still being one. When broaching the subject of feminism, Gabe says he disagrees with it, and Allison appears to agree with him but tells Blair it was a joke when she sees that Blair is upset.

The three go inside, where Allison and Blair dance for a bit. When Gabe comes back, Blair asks Allison about her film and her work, but Allison says she doesn’t think she’s going to make anything else. The couple starts to argue more when discussing gender roles, and Gabe expresses a more cynical point of view. When Allison excuses herself after pissing Blair off, Gabe and Blair argue loudly because Blair knows that Gabe finds Allison attractive and wants to have sex with her, all of which she can hear.

After Blair falls asleep, Gabe goes to join Allison for a swim in the lake. Afterwards, the two talk before they start to kiss and begin to have sex. Blair catches them and orders Allison out of there. She and Gabe argue more until he shoves her hard against the couch. Blair sees that she is bleeding, and Gabe has Allison get the car to drive them to the hospital. As she is driving, Allison is startled by a bear in the road, and she crashes the car into a tree.

Part Two: The Bear by the Boat House

Everything now seems to be part of a film shoot. Gabe is the director, and Allison and Blair are actors in the film. Allison is married to Gabe, but he is having the affair with Blair. He is also outrageously rude to Allison in front of the whole crew.

Later that night, the crew is preparing to film a scene in the cabin. Allison is bothered by Gabe’s behavior and obvious infidelity and starts drinking heavily. The assistant director, Cahya (Paola Lazaro), finds Allison half nude with another crew member, Nora (Jennifer Kim), while totally drunk. They help Allison on her feet to go prepare for the scene, and they hear the same bear from earlier growling nearby.

As the scene is being set up, Gabe notices how drunk Allison is, and the two have a quiet but obvious argument in front of the crew. They film “the most important scene in the film”, which ends with Allison actually hitting Blair during the scene until she is pulled off of her. When she goes to another room to cool off, she asks Gabe to get the cameraman, Baako (Grantham Coleman), since Allison trusts him. Baako goes to console Allison before they briefly make out, and Baako brings Allison back out.

The scene is reshot, but Gabe asks Allison not to hit Blair. The scene plays out as is, but Allison appears to have a genuine uncontrollable breakdown as she is still sobbing even after the cameras are off. Gabe consoles her and takes her aside to another room. They kiss and lay down together, and Allison calls him “Bear”. She feels bad about herself and admits that it makes sense for him to love Blair more.

Gabe leaves Allison to sleep while the rest of the crew celebrates wrapping the production. Gabe joins Blair for a swim before they retreat to have sex. Allison sees them in the room together before the bear appears behind her. She then seems to calmly walk toward it.

We cut back to the opening scene with Allison by herself by the lake in a fog. She returns to the cabin where she is alone and writes “Black Bear” down in her notebook before looking to the viewer.

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The film cuts between two separate scenarios:

The first shows a filmmaker, Allison, going to stay with an expectant couple, Gabe and Blair, at their cabin. It appears as though Allison is intentionally disrupting the couple's relationship by pitting them against each other with topics like feminism and gender roles. Blair knows that Gabe is attracted to Blair and later catches him trying to have sex with her. The couple fights, and Gabe throws Blair against the couch, causing her to suffer a miscarriage. Allison drives them to the hospital but crashes when she sees a bear in the road.

The next scenario shows that everything is supposedly part of a film production, where Gabe is the filmmaker, Allison is his wife, and Blair is his mistress. He is an abrasive director and Allison knows about his affair. She gets drunk and acts out during the shooting of the final scene, after which she admits to Gabe that Blair is better for him. After the shoot wraps, Allison catches Gabe and Blair having sex before seeing the bear behind her.