HCA Gradebook: ‘Talk to Me’June 24, 2023
HCA Gradebook: ‘Blue Beetle’June 26, 2023
Film: The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023)
Plot: Based on a single chilling chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the terrifying story of the merchant ship Demeter, which was chartered to carry private cargo—fifty unmarked wooden crates—from Carpathia to London.
Cast: Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, Liam Cunningham, David Dastmalchian
Director: André Øvredal
Studio: Universal Pictures
Number of Graders: 16
Average Grade: B-
Effective enough. Smartly, Øvredal may not linger too much on the look of Dracula until the end, and even then, only so much time is spent focusing directly on him. However, the choice has also been made to visually portray the creature as just that – a deadly monster, complete with wings, pale skin, and plenty of animal-like features compared to the more debonair versions many are used to seeing (less Bela Lugosi, more Max Schreck).
The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a surprisingly engaging period horror film, cleverly expanding upon one chapter of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It returns vampire lore to its original scary creature origins rather than the sparkly hot people of more recent pop culture. Strong performances — particularly from Corey Hawkins, Jon Jon Briones, and Woody Norman — and really tangible production design make an already good film even better.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter is bloated and uninteresting. The story has some strong elements, but the script fails to bring it to life. It needed more gore, killing, and blood, all things you would expect from a Dracula movie.
In Universal’s The Last Voyage of the Demeter, rather than focus on a big sweeping story featuring the diabolical villain, we approach a single point in his reign of terror. However, many of the movie’s scares are directed as if they were afraid that the audience wouldn’t get it. Every single scare in the movie is accompanied by a loud noise or musical cue intended to jump-scare the audience into oblivion. It’s shocking, not because the moments are scary or brutal (the movie honestly could have used more brutality), but because it reeks of an unsure filmmaking team. Rather than guide the audience through the tale, every set piece is given a soundtrack that drills into your head, turning those moments of dread into knocks as loud as the ones on the ship.
While not the worst horror film in recent years, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is undoubtedly one of the most forgettable, which is disappointing for an Øvredal film. While the creature effects are strong, the rest of the movie feels as wooden as the ship they are trapped in, despite the efforts of decent performers. And while attempting to expand a minor section of an epic novel into a movie of its own is an impressive and ambitious feat, it’s ultimately an exercise in wasted potential that feels incredibly toothless.
The Last Voyage Of The Demeter sadly struggles to find calm seas. Despite plenty of atmosphere from director André Øvredal and a largely successful creature played by Javier Botet, the story is only fitfully frightening and feels as thin as the chapter of the book it is adapted from. There are efforts to counteract the fact that we all know the ship’s crew is doomed, but a lack of compelling characters (on or two aside) means that you don’t really care as Dracula starts turning them into bloody snacks one by one.
There’s one major element that separates Alien from this movie: pacing. The main plot of Alien occurs over several hours, never letting the audience breathe. The Last Voyage of the Demeter unfolds over several days with Dracula disappearing whenever the sun goes up. Where is Dracula hiding? It’s never explained, but in any case, this slows the momentum down. Although the action picks up when the sun sets, Dracula isn’t the most compelling villain. Whether portrayed by Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, and even Mr. Cage, Dracula is one of the most charismatic foes in horror. Here, he’s just a senseless beast with no personality. Granted, the practical effects and prosthetic makeup are damn impressive with Javier Botet giving another committed performance. However, he looks more like one of Dracula’s minions rather than the King of Vampires.
In The Last Voyage of the Demeter, Øvredal, Schut, and Olkewicz have created a horror gem that delights in its attention to detail, character depth, and thematic complexity.
“I’m not joking; the number of people asking if I saw this film was as high as how many asked if I saw BARBIE. But the film is a solid watch! Awesome kills, fun horror, I wish the characters were a bit deeper, but it’s surprisingly fun! Dracula is back!”
This boat doesn’t float. Pretty good film, but far from the great thriller it could’ve been. Too much shaky cam, which gets in the way of any of the shots actually being scary. I dig the concept of this being Alien, but if it was on a boat with Dracula picking people off, it’s just far from being anywhere near that level of scary and satisfying. David Dastmalchian and Corey Hawkins are solid, but the rest of the cast is rather forgettable.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a deliciously terrifying vampire tale which is fully immersed in the tumultuous terror of suspense. Hawkins is the film’s most vital asset and the reason it soars beyond its hampered potential.
A brilliant new look at the Dracula legend using a rarely acknowledged passage in the Dracula novel. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is an edge-of-your-seat and claustrophobic white-knuckle ride from beginning to end. Think of it as “Alien” on the high seas.
The exquisite atmosphere and production design highlight a lean and mean imagining of this chapter in Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Dracula is not sexy and sinister but a monstrous supernatural evil vampire. Truly terrifying for a crew trying to survive at sea.
Its reliance on the formula from Ridley Scott’s iconic Alien does, unfortunately, make it a fairly predictable ride, along with its adherence to its source material. Still, predictability doesn’t undermine its entertainment value as Øvredal has delivered the most terrifying on-screen depiction of Dracula to date and delivers plenty of claustrophobic tension while also being supported by solid turns from his cast, namely Corey Hawkins.
The best way to describe The Last Voyage of the Demeter boils down to Dracula on a boat. Based on a chapter in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the book details Dracula’s boat ride to England. The book is split between Transylvania and England, so why not explore how that boat ride went for Dracula? What is fascinating about this movie is that we’re less focused on hot Dracula and more focused on the fact that he is a monster.
Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is a man who wants to return to England after his time as a doctor abroad didn’t go as planned. He isn’t supposed to be on the ship, but when one of the crew sees Dracula’s logo on a boat, he runs away, leaving a spot for Clemens to join. Yes, Dracula has a brand, and one that those from Transylvania do not care much for. On the boat, Dracula’s first victim is unforgivable, and that’s frankly how we know he is the devil himself.
What’s perhaps most pleasurable about THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER is that it is unironic vampire horror. There is no impulse toward camp here. Nobody does anything that fits with genre cliches or makes us wonder about the characters’ common sense. Instead, there’s a little tingle of discovery. For most viewers, it’s impossible to recapture the experience of a first encounter with the Dracula story, but THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER offers at least a reminder of that feeling.