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film review

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

  • Directed by Andre Ovredal
  • Written by Bragi Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Starring Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi and Liam Cunningham
  • Classification 14A; 119 minutes
  • Opens in theatres Aug. 11

This summer has been stacked for moviegoers in a way that harkens to the days of summer blockbusters past. From Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One to the ongoing Barbie and Oppenheimer craze, one question remains: What will be this summer’s ideal passive thrill, the type of film you go to see on a lazy afternoon that is just fine and a little fun? Look no further than The Last Voyage of the Demeter.

Directed by Andre Ovredal and penned by Bragi Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz, The Last Voyage of The Demeter reaches for a portion of Dracula’s lore nobody has really thought of or asked to be adapted. A feature length film highlighting the journey of the OG bad boy vampire from his home in Bulgaria to London.

If the concept seems thin, it’s because it is. Based on the captain’s log section from Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, nearly the entire film takes place on The Demeter – the ship that transported Dracula. Not that anyone needs to read the novel to understand the voyage. This portion of the novel goes exactly how you’d expect it would with a vampire trapped on a ship for weeks on end.

The film, of course, takes liberties to make it a mostly cohesive story. The film follows Clemens (Corey Hawkins), who boards the Demeter as a doctor to the small crew. He joins the rest of the crew, helmed by captain Elliot (Liam Cunningham), his first mate Wojchek (David Dastmalchian), the captain’s 8 year old grandson Toby (Woody Norman) and a ragtag crew of sweaty, vulgar seamen. Their aim is to get to London before their intended arrival date to get a sizable bonus. Clemens, an educated and practical Black man, clearly does not fit in with the rest of the crew – making him the voice of reason when it comes to handling the monster on the ship.

Within days, the crew begins noticing strange happenings. Like how all the livestock end up mysteriously fatally ravaged, to strange sightings throughout their nightly watches. And when a Bulgarian stowaway Anna (Aisling Franciosi) is found, their journey is further complicated.

The Last Voyage of The Demeter works as horror in the sense that, early on, you know most of the crew is doomed – it’s just a matter of watching them get picked off. This is also where the film somewhat drags. There are only so many scenes you can watch of the crew trying to figure out what could be plaguing their ship. Of course, as viewers we know what vampires are, but the crew does not know what a vampire is, and watching them come to the conclusion that the force of evil on the boat is a hellish monster takes a bit too long. Also, if you were expecting a true to the novel version of Dracula that’s a bit sexy, just know now you are getting more of a Nosferatu deal here.

When it does get fun and gory, the moments end too quickly but provide enough gore and a few jump scares to leave you satisfied. Where the film works is mostly through Clemens, Corey Hawkins does a fantastic job at working with what he’s got, which is not much at all. At one point, his race comes into play which is a bit ham-fisted, but Hawkins makes it believable enough to explain why Clemens is on the ship in the first place. And it’s a good thing we see the film unfold mostly from the perspectives of Clemens and Toby, because, luckily for the filmmakers, Woody Norman is one of the best child actors to grace the big screen in years.

Will The Last Voyage of the Demeter find its place in the canon of vampire flicks? Probably not, but the ending does hint at it being a tentpole for a new Draculacentric franchise. Who knows what portion of the novel it will touch on – maybe there’s a lost chapter where Dracula has to do his taxes.

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