The Last Voyage of the Demeter
August 11th, 2023
MOVIE: THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER
STARRING: COREY HAWKINS, AISLING FRANCIOSI, DAVID DASTMALCHIAN, LIAM CUNNINGHAM
DIRECTED BY: ANDRE OVREDAL
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Dracula is all the rage these days. He’s actually been the rage since forever. From Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, and more recently Nicolas Cage, the interpretations of Count Dracula seem never-ending. In The Last Voyage of the Demeter, director Andre Ovredal adapts only the first chapter of Bram Stoker’s tale, where the Count was shipped as cargo from Romania, and made a wooden ship his personal feeding cruise. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a rocky trip, with moments that shock, moments that underwhelm, and a movie that I respect more than I loved. This Voyage had just enough bite to keep me aboard.
The premise alone is right up my alley as it is basically Alien on a big wooden ship. It starts at the end, the Demeter has crashed into the shores of London, and the scene inside the ship is worse than the wreckage on the outside. They discover the log of Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham), and we begin to hear the tale of how the Demeter got into this state. The boat is set for England from Romania and with the crew short a few men, they welcome a doctor by the name of Clemens (Corey Hawkins), who makes his way onto the ship after saving the Captain’s son Toby (Woody Norman) from being smashed by a massive box of cargo. Once he is aboard it is hopefully smooth sailing but what is below deck is not what any of the crew is prepared for.
Making up the rest of the group is second mate Wojchek (David Dastmalchian), Joseph the cook (Jon Jon Briones), and a few other burley men to batten down the hatches. It’s not till later that a woman named Anna (Aisling Franciosi) is discovered, barely alive, and in desperate need of medical attention. When she comes back from a blood transfusion, she alerts the crew that something wicked is on the ship, a terrible beast waiting to attack them. This is of course brushed off as just superstition. That is, until members of the crew start disappearing, and blood is found scattered on the floor.
There are myriad reasons why The Last Voyage of the Demeter worked and didn’t work for me. From a technical standpoint, the sets of the ship, and the creation of Dracula himself look very good. The screenplay by Bragi F. Schut and Zak Olkewicz is not interested in releasing the tension as much as they are about building it up. Because of that, what didn’t work is the general pacing. It feels like Ovredal was either restricted by budget or wanted the dread to be surface-level. It’s a matter of expectations and although there is plenty of bloodshed, Demeter is almost muted at times. The one revelatory idea that Ovredal has is that this Dracula looks like a mix of Gollum and a giant winged bat. When he gnashes his teeth one can recall the haunting look of Max Schreck in the original Nosferatu.
It’s all so frustrating with The Last Voyage of the Demeter. It has the inspiration of classic 60’s Hammer films while also having a respect for the gothic material to give it that raw look. Although it goes for Ridley Scott’s Alien, it fails to come close to that. It ultimately feels like a movie that should be watched again and will grow fonder with audiences in time. The cast is all on board. The visuals are something to appreciate. It’s a story about Dracula eating people on a boat. And that’s just enough for you to sink your teeth in.
THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER IS PLAYING IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE FRIDAY AUGUST 11TH, 2023.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady