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An average gay horror
on 15 November 2012
"Into the Lions Den" will illicit great support from fans of Ronnie Kroell, many of whom will like this film based on his character and acting skills. He is not bad as an actor, and I have been pleasantly surprised at many of his past efforts, and am looking forward to his portrayal of the ghost of Christmas Past in "Marley" (currently in production). However, the fact that I am a fan of him as a person and his work both in film and politics (Ronnie is an ardent and passionate activist against bullying and the devastation that such has on the lives of young men and women), does not make me a fan of this film.
Three friends (Michael, Johnny and Ted) undertake a road trip out of NY into the country side as a means of settling the score between them. It seems that there is a residual unhappiness between the three friends, which rears itself throughout the trip as each character addresses their issues with each other. Before returning they are convinced to go to a local bar, filled with patrons who are not comfortable with either homosexuals or the openness displayed by the three friends. Despite jarring the atmosphere, the three seem to settle in with the local crowd after an initial incident, and end up drinking until closing time. Left alone with the bar owner and his wife, the evening descends into a night of horror, which ends in both rape and murder.
The subject matter is far from easy, and whilst at times the humour is black, there are unsettling and frightening moments. The first rape scene in particular, was both crass and unsettling. Despite the victim possessing an inner strength and power which is admirable under the circumstances, one cannot help but feel that the subject matter was dealt with inappropriately and far too lightly. Perhaps this was the fault of the director, as both the scripting and the acting seemed to give effect to the horror inflicted upon him, but the end result leaves the audience feeling as if it was treated glibly. Perhaps it was his (the director Dan Lantz) intention to show how gay men are often treated or considered as less than human when victims of a crime? If this was the case, then it was not successful.
The fact that a perpetrator of rape can be both male and female was an interesting inclusion in the scripting, as this is an often unspoken and misunderstood reality. Ronnie's character deals with this both seriously and accurately, without the usual white washing that accompanies such. In truth males are victims of rape, and sometimes the perpetrator is a woman. This does not diminish the horror and offence, and under no circumstances should male victims be treated any differently in the handling of such a crime.
Clearly the budget was limiting in this case, which may have impacted negatively on the final product. Despite which there are moments of good acting, scripting and direction. Unfortunately, the final product lacks substance and fails to meet the grade of a good horror. Even fans of B-grade horror will be disappointed, and it lacks the flavour and characterisation often found in horrors that have similar budgetary restraints.