Last Voyage of the Demeter

June 25, 202350/1005 min
Starring
Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, Liam Cunningham, David Dastmakchian
Written by
Bragi f. Schut ( screenplay by/ screen story by), Zak Olkewicz ( screenplay by), Bram Stoker ( based on the chapter
Directed by
André Øvredal
Run Time
1h 58min
Release Date
August 11th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

The tale of Dracula has been depicted in film for almost as long as pictures have been moving. Most fans of The Count will recall 1922’s Nosferatu, as well as the Universal films from the 1930s, and plenty of other films that followed. With a story that has been told so many times, one might think it would be difficult to bring something new to the screen. However, even the smallest of details can serve as inspiration.

Written by Bragi F. Schut and Zak Olkewicz, based on the chapter “Captain’s Log” in Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, Last Voyage of the Demeter this is the tale of one ship’s deadly cargo. Sailing out of Carpathia, the Demeter is in need of deckhands for their voyage to England. One man who volunteers is Clemens (Corey Hawkins), an educated individual who not only knows his way around a ship but is also a doctor. Everything starts off like a normal trip, but soon they discover a stowaway, Anna (Aisling Franciosi), who has mysteriously appeared on the ship in poor health. Against the rest of the crew’s wishes, Clemens convinces the Captain (Liam Cunningham) to let her stay. Some believe having a woman on board a ship is a bad omen, and soon bad things do start to happen. What begins with all of the ship’s livestock being slaughtered soon turns into members of the crew meeting the same fate one by one. However, it’s not bad luck that’s haunting them, but a creature that hunts at night and sleeps during the day. The question becomes: will any of them survive before they reach England, or will this truly be the last voyage for everyone on board?

Schut and Olkewicz are not attempting to revolutionize the game; instead, their screenplay is filled with clichés, both in terms of characters and storytelling. What saves the movie from fading into forgettable territory is how beautifully the film is shot by cinematographers Roman Osin and Torn Stern, under the direction of André Øvredal. Together, they create a chilling atmosphere that effectively utilizes its surroundings, even if they draw out some of the more classic elements. The main attraction is, of course, Dracula, who is fashioned more in line with the “Nosferatu” aesthetic than the charming man who typically beguiles you before draining you of your blood. In fact, there is no charm in this movie at all. It is unfortunately dominated by pure carnage.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is not a reinvention of the Dracula story, some might even be disappointed with the character portrayal. My personal disappointments with this film mostly stem from other areas. Primarily, I felt that the creature was revealed too early and that the buildup to the reveal could have been more effective. When you add the extended voyage that exceeds what was necessary, a few factors work against delivering a good flick. Fortunately, there is enough, especially in the staging, to provide a compelling gothic horror movie that offers strong tension and a sense of atmospheric uncertainty. Even if the filmmakers were a bit uncertain as well about how to go about telling this particular chapter of this horror classic.

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