Review: The Last Voyage of the Demeter
The Last Voyage of the Demeter – 52%
Reviewer ranking: 2,451/5,153
The year 2023 has already bestowed upon us over 20 sequels, remakes, or reboots for wide release. Now comes The Last Voyage of the Demeter, a 2-hour film based on the seventh chapter of Bram Stroker’s Dracula. Just when you thought cinema has bled the tale of the iconic vampire dry, it rises once more… and for the second time this year (after Renfield).
Our journey begins at a Romanian port where we are introduced to Clemens (Corey Hawkins), a young medical school graduate. He jumps at the opportunity to join the crew of the Demeter to catch a lift back to England. Aboard the ship we meet the elderly Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham), his 9-year-old grandson Toby (Woody Norman), and the other members of the small crew.
Director André Øvredal, who helmed the Scandinavian cult hit Troll Hunter (2010) and more recently Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019), keeps Demeter a tight film and never allows its attention to be diverted to subplots. Everything on our voyage leads straight to Dracula and the fate of the crew. While the runtime does strain the threads of the thin plot, the film’s focus never allows the tension or sense of dread to dissipate.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter unfurls as a slasher, as we watch crewmembers succumb to the mythical monster one by one. It also steeps itself in the atmosphere of a gothic haunted house tale, with all of that genre’s creaks, echoing rappings, and eerie glows of lanterns that sway in the night. Each of the cast deliver strong, melancholic performances, though most of the characters lack depth. Cunningham and Aisling Franciosi (who plays Anna) manage to imbue a world-weary complexity into the fabric of their roles. You can feel the weight of their lives.
On the technical side, the film falls into the trap of covering everything in blue and gray hues, blunting its visual impact. The CGI is lacking, and the design of Dracula leaves something to be desired. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is an enjoyable water and blood-soaked ride across the sea, while also feeling plodding and stretched too thin.