Michael (Ronnie Kroell), Johnny (Jesse Archer) and Ted (Kristen-Alexzander Griffith) embark on a road trip to New York from L.A. Making a number of pit-stops on the way, the three friends party, bicker and have fun. As they get closer to New York they decide to make one last stop-off for a final celebration before hitting the city’s bright lights. Arriving at a bar called The Lion’s Den things take a sinister turn putting all three friends in danger and leaving them fighting for their lives.
Into The Lion’s Den is a low-budget thriller from director Dan Lantz. Part road movie, part nasty thriller the movie surprises by being genuinely engaging with a few surprising twists. The build-up to The Lion’s Den gives you chance to understand the dynamic between the three friends and sets up the second half of the film very well. Michael seems to be having visions indicating his fate which he never shares and these are never really explained.
One of the problems with Into The Lion’s Den is the dialogue. At one point a character refers to impending rape as ‘embarrassing’ and the villains of the piece are a little too pantomime. Screenwriter Philip Malaczewski tends to throw in filler dialogue and expletives rather than exploring the characters. With a bit more work the script could have been a lot tighter making the characters a little more well-rounded.
Jesse Archer is, as always, playing the same carefree slutty character he’s become known for so this is hardly a stretch. Ronnie Kroell on the other hand builds on his supporting role from Eating Out: Drama Camp by flexing his acting muscles and turning in a genuinely solid performance. Whilst he may still be learning his craft, Ronnie is far and away the best thing about this movie and his performance as Michael is engaging. He’s also fairly fearless as shown in later scenes that’ll make any man watching flinch.
Extras on the DVD include behind-the-scenes footage, a blooper reel, deleted and extended scenes, a director’s commentary and the trailer for the movie.
Into The Lion’s Den isn’t without its flaws but it does succeed in drawing you in and making you care for the characters (well Michael and Ted). The cast pulls together to overcome some shoddy dialogue, working really well together on-screen. One thing you will take away from the movie is that Ronnie Kroell is going to continue growing as he takes on more roles; in this movie he shows a lot of promise.