“The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” also known as “Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter” (2023), emerges as a supernatural horror cinematic creation helmed by director André Øvredal and brought to life through the written collaboration of Bragi F. Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz.
Drawing its essence from the “The Captain’s Log” section within Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic Dracula, this adaptation stars Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, Liam Cunningham, and David Dastmalchian.
This eerie saga, “The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” embarked upon its theatrical debut on August 11, 2023, under Universal Pictures. Its unfolding narrative spans 1 hour and 58 minutes, captivating audiences.
Based on a single chapter, The Captain’s Log, from Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel “Dracula,” the story is set aboard the Russian schooner Demeter, which was chartered to carry private cargo – 24 unmarked wooden crates – from Carpathia to London. The film will detail the strange events that befell the doomed crew as they attempt to survive the ocean voyage, stalked each night by a terrifying presence on board the ship. When it finally arrived near Whitby Harbour, it was derelict. There was no trace of the crew.
THE LAST VOYAGE OF DEMETER.
“The name of the vessel is Demeter, and this is the story of its crew.“
The Last Voyage of Demeter takes place on August 6, 1897, in England, when the ship Demeter is washed ashore. After examining the it, they discover that no one person survived, but you know what did? A captain’s journal. “This log is a record and a warning… and God help you if this log finds you,” the journal adds.
Four weeks before the accident, the Demeter arrives at Varna, Bulgaria, to pick up cargo transportation to London. They also seized this occasion to recruit able-bodied men to assist them on their mission. The consignment, which consists of many substantial wooden crates, is delivered by Romanians.
Clemens, a doctor, wants to go to England and is seeking an opportunity, so when he hears that Captain Elliot is looking for strong men, he decides to apply and prove his worth. Clemens, the doctor who studied Astrology, is initially rejected but subsequently chosen by the Captain because he saved his grandson from being crushed by a falling cargo. “I know this mark (referring to the dragon drawn on the ship’s cargo). It is a bad omen.” One of the able-bodied men who was chosen said this and then left, forcing Clemens to fill his shoes. After doing what they came for, the crew embarked on their voyage.
Olgaren spots a mysterious monster via a telescope in the Aegean Sea and panics. Clemens notices the strange figure in the fog on deck as well. Later, in the cargo hold, one of the packages falls and cracks open. Clemens goes inside and discovers a lady buried in the dirt. He transfers blood on her since she is barely alive and appears infected. He aims to treat her through the transfusion. Other crew members weren’t happy with this because the resources the crew members would need wouldn’t be enough to go around, but Clemens agreed to share whatever he had with her.
The following night, the crew finds that all of the animals aboard the ship, including the ship’s dog Huckleberry, have been killed. Clemens is asked the cause of this and if this “infection” (what they believed was responsible for the death of the creatures) can be communicated to people, and he says NO. The crew tossed all creatures overboard because they are afraid of a rabies outbreak.
Anna, the stowaway, awakens from her sleep and tells Clemens about Dracula, a local monster in her hamlet to whom she was chained by her village. She believes Dracula has already boarded the ship and is hunting for food.
Now, the crew must investigate this hypothesis to verify it is true. If it is, and considering their current situation in the middle of the ocean, the question arises: How will they manage to survive? Are their lives all at risk? Many unanswered questions remain.
The Last Voyage of Demeter features a great cast, most notably Corey Hawkins and Liam Cunningham, who undoubtedly impressed in their roles as a Doctor and Captain, respectively. This film was mostly acted at a particular location – the sea – so it needs the characters to step up their game and capture the audience’s attention with their speech, body movement, and acting, and these characters did just that. Even Tony, the grandson of Captain Elliot, was impressed and made the movie more welcoming.
The film is also very conversational. I mean that they make good use of dialogue, as this is really where the storyline is. You miss the conversation; you miss a whole lot. In this film, the dialogue is as important as the horror.
This storyline, settings, special effects, and the musical score were all good. The plot is well set up, the attire and props are perfect. Just like Talk to Me (2023), this film relied heavily on sound and lightning. It also played with shadows a lot. The music and the storm and rain provided a tense atmosphere. The CGI used to create Dracula and his face were outstanding. There are some really creepy moments in here and some worthwhile jump scares.
The kill scenes were intense and brutal and had nice gore and blood splatter. The film is gory, as you see blood, biting, and chewing of flesh. The villain is a scary creature we don’t have the liberty to gaze at for long as it is also in the dark and always jumping from place to place.
This film uses suspense in the best way possible. I was longing to see what happens next. When watching this film, it feels like once you move your face from the screen, you miss a whole lot because there are scenes where shadows are mainly used.
I was impressed with the production design. The ship creaks and becomes a character, with eeriness lurking in the shadows. Once the horror began, it was reasonably practical. The ship in the middle of the ocean is a truly remarkable setting for a horror movie. There are a lot of night scenes, too (vampire movies naturally always have a lot of those), which adds to the suspenseful atmosphere.
The Last Voyage of Demeter is a horrifying, thrilling film. The script does make great use of the small location and has sufficient thematic depth and a few strong character beats. But unfortunately, it’s also bogged down with many empty characters and too many scenes of meandering, repetitive conversation.
The transformation scenes are good, too. However, the movie does run a bit long, and the ending could have been more satisfying than I expected.
Would I recommend this film? Yes, I would. If you enjoyed Talk to Me, you will enjoy this too.
The Last Voyage of Demeter is rated R for bloody violence.
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