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Home > Last Voyage of The Demeter: A Review

Last Voyage of The Demeter: A Review

last voyage of the demeter

Adapting One of the Most Suspenseful Chapters of Dracula

The Last Voyage of The Demeter is an adaptation of one of the most terrifying chapters of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The film focuses on the plight of the crew as they unsuspectingly voyage from Romania to London while the legendary vampire picks them off one by one. Produced by Universal studios and directed by André Øvredal, this new Dracula venture also has a well-developed plot with impressive characters and an incredible soundtrack that sets the dark mood of the gothic horror story. The movie is one of the best attempts to expand on an aspect of Dracula’s mythos in a way many other films move past with a short summary.

The Final Nightmare on the Ship

Focusing on the single chapter of the Captain’s Log from Bram Stoker’s book, the crew of the Demeter set sail with nonspecific cargo from Transylvania along with new members, including Clemens, a medical doctor who graduated from Cambridge in Astronomy and suffered from discrimination despite his credentials. Shortly after the ship departs Romania on the way to London, livestock on the ship are massacred and soon, the crew are hunted down by the nightmarish monster of the night, Dracula. With little options and dwindling hope as the monstrous vampire grows in strength with each casualty, Clemens and the crew of the Demeter must find a way to slay Dracula before his thirst for blood can reach the unsuspecting populace of London.

The plot of the story follows the pacing, atmosphere, and claustrophobic dread of other Closed Circle horror films, such as Ridley Scott’s Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Once the plot kicks off, the crew is essentially isolated at sea with dwindling supplies and patience. The added element of Dracula’s attacks escalates the drama and tension on the ship. In Bram Stoker’s literary work, The Captain’s Log chronicling the horrific voyage was a glimpse into the dread of Dracula, which was told in the form of eyewitness reports and rumors. Many adaptations of the story have gone past this chapter even though it would be the most viscous event of the story due to Dracula ultimately wiping at the ship and causing it to crash on the coasts in the end. Now with the film concentrating on the final voyage of the Demeter, viewers will get to witness how the dark, blood-draining legend of Dracula would have truly begun.

The Crew of the Ship and Their Uninvited Guest

Other major characters alongside Clemens are Captain Elliot, his young grandson Toby, the first mate Wojchek, and a mysterious stowaway, Anna, who has a dark past with Dracula on board the ship. The characters portray themselves as faithful sailors to the time period of the film. There is camaraderie and banter, and a sense of the characters truly investing in what would have been the next step of their lives should the voyage complete. The fact that Clemens is a Black doctor in a time period where systemic discrimination was very normal is naturally a part of both his struggles and his desire to do good work in a world that discourages him. The crew is fairly believable in the characters’ circumstances compared to most horror movie characters. Once the danger becomes apparent, they react without wasting dialogue on bickering and anger, immediately finding ways to understand what’s happening and planning on how to counter it.

the last voyage of the demeter

Enter the legendary vampire himself, Count Dracula. Introduced as an ancient evil that plagued the countryside of Romania for centuries, Dracula is at his most monstrous and vile since Gary Oldman’s portrayal of the Count in 1992. Dracula is portrayed by Javier Botet, who has been a prominent creature actor for films like Slenderman and André Øvredal’s previous work Scary Stories to tell in the Dark. Dracula’s design is based on a mixture between Count Orlok from Nosferatu (1922) and some of the more monstrous concepts from the 1992 film, with many bat-like attributes often associated with vampires. Dracula’s behavior in the film is less like a megalomaniac and more of a classic monstrous force of the original adaptations. A savage beast when starving for blood but also a manipulative sadist that compels through fear and his own will over the victims he claims once he gets a taste of them. Throughout the film, he begins portraying his old persona by taunting the crew of the Demeter for what feels like his own twisted pleasure.

The Thrilling Horror of the Ship At Night

Placing a monster like Dracula on an inescapable object like a trading ship is the perfect element of horror. The idea that a crew of unprepared sailors—with no means to defend themselves from the supernatural threat are now assailed by an unforeseen horror—is both tragic and loaded with suspense. Because the chief inspiration of the film are horror movies like Alien (1979) the best element is knowing that regardless of what the characters know or do, they cannot escape the ship. They are isolated with a force they don’t understand, and it’s intelligent in its malevolence. The tone of the film shows viewers that no one is safe and nowhere is secure from the stalking presence of Dracula. From the music composed brilliantly by Bear McCreary, the film shows the scale of the tragedy that strikes the crew as the ferocious vampire claims lives and influences their minds. 

The movie plays with cinematography by showing the ship as it sails in the empty sea. The moon illuminates the darkness, only to be clouded by rain and storms that reveal a flash of images with every stroke of lightning. Dracula was also mostly hidden throughout the film. Instead, there are moments that show vague shadows moving across the rooms of the ship, indicating his movement and attacks. The sound design of the film builds suspense through the creak of the ship, the rhythmic beat of the mast that feels like the heartbeat of the boat, and the snarling raspy voice of the monster as Dracula urges closer to his prey.  

Final Rating

Apparently, the production of the film took over 20 years to finalize. As a result, many aspects were changed around. The initial cast of the film was different, and it took a long time in development hell before the first trailer was released this year. Nevertheless, this movie is very much worth a watch in the theaters, being one of the scarier iterations of the Dracula adaptations. Dracula has not been truly monstrous in a film for a good while, but The Last Voyage of the Demeter is the reintroduction of the nightmarish legend of Dracula.

demeter

Last Voyage of the Demeter Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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An enthusiast of Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I loved reading about the stories and worlds of video games and movies and writing on a multitude of subjects, from lists to reviews.