dracula voyage of the demeter 2023
Universal

[Review] THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER Offers Gothic Splendor with a Leaky Narrative

Ahoy, dear readers! Prepare yourselves to embark on the not-so-smooth sailing through a tale you thought you knew. The Last Voyage of the Demeter (or Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter in international waters) sets a course for a supernatural journey that’s part sea shanty, part tragic opera, with a sprinkle of horror clichés in between.

 

“…part sea shanty, part tragic opera, with a sprinkle of horror clichés in between.”

 

Helmed by André Øvredal, this 2023 frightful cruise, penned by Bragi F. Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz, takes a single chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula” and attempts to stretch it out into a two-hour voyage. Imagine taking a small yet flavorful appetizer and trying to make a five-course meal out of it. It’s ambitious, but can it sustain our horror-loving appetites?

We start at the end, washing ashore on 6th August in England, discovering a captain’s log amongst the wreckage. Four weeks earlier, the Demeter picks up some mysterious cargo in Bulgaria, including a dirt-encrusted stowaway named Anna, who later becomes a central figure in the plot. For those in the back row, yes, that cargo involves some wooden crates and the infamous Count Dracula (played with bat-like brilliance by Javier Botet), hinted by dragon emblems stamped on the box. And “THIS WAY UP”s. (I kid.)

Our lead protagonist, a doctor named Clemens, with a dash of astronomy knowledge and a sprinkle of heroism, then joins the crew, kicking off a series of slow and methodical horrors. Now, the dreary gothic aesthetic is a breath of fresh (or should I say, foggy) air in the present-day horror scene. But much like a windless day at sea, the plot tends to drift aimlessly, and our doomed ship and its equally doomed crew seem to float rather than sail towards their terrifying destiny. There are faster forms of travel I guess, but when it comes to a story that’s been adapted countless times (maybe not quite in this specificity), serving out helpings in slow, methodical spoonfuls doesn’t quite satiate the same.

 

“The film revels in its slow pace, much like Dracula himself savoring each bite of his drained human morsels. “

 

The Last Voyage of the Demeter revels in its slow pace, much like Dracula himself savoring each bite of his drained human morsels. While the kills are great fun for Dracula fans (particularly those that love a good Nosferatu), this doesn’t always translate into nail-biting tension. The crew, despite excellent performances by the likes of Liam Cunningham, Aisling Franciosi, David Dastmalchian, and Corey Hawkins, are served up one by one like a buffet to our hungry vampire, without ever making the audience sweat over their fate. Every nightfall, one seems to wander just far enough off from the group to a shadowy corner, where Bat-Drac stealthfully slurps them up.

Dracula, rendered in both CGI and practical effects, steals the show like a pirate plundering treasure. His bat-like gargoyle visage, popping in and out of the fog and his dirt-filled sleeping quarters, is the salty snack that’ll keep you in your seat. Unfortunately, The Last Voyage of the Demeter lacks a sense of inventiveness and creativity, making the extended runtime feel more like a tedious ocean crossing than a thrilling adventure.

But fear not, dear seafarers, for there’s still fun to be had in the vampiric mythology, with vampiric infections and this animalistic Dracula still holding sway and hypnotic power among the living in ways typically reserved for his more debonair kin.  These little flairs on the mythos provide some fresh blood in an otherwise anemic tale. Though the absence of a Renfield character leaves a void (perhaps the filmmakers felt one Renfield is enough for a year), the entrancing powers of the beastly Dracula fill in the cracks of this weathered ship.

So, is The Last Voyage of the Demeter a shipwreck or a thrilling voyage? Let’s call it a somewhat rocky journey that will leave some delighted and others reaching for the lifeboats. With a narrative that never quite manages to outpace the audience’s expectations, and tension as thin as sea mist, the film does tread water. But it does so with style, grace, and enough gothic charm to make it worth a watch for those willing to brave the waves.

Set your compasses, adjust your sails, and embark on this voyage if you dare. But be warned, much like Dracula himself, it may leave you thirsting for more.

Did you catch The Last Voyage of the Demeter? Let us know your thoughts over in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord!

 



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dracula voyage of the demeter 2023
[Review] THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER Offers Gothic Splendor with a Leaky Narrative
TL;DR
So, is The Last Voyage of the Demeter a shipwreck or a thrilling voyage? Let's call it a somewhat rocky journey that will leave some delighted and others reaching for the lifeboats. With a narrative that never quite manages to outpace the audience's expectations, and tension as thin as sea mist, the film does tread water. But it does so with style, grace, and enough gothic charm to make it worth a watch for those willing to brave the waves. Set your compasses, adjust your sails, and embark on this voyage if you dare. But be warned, much like Dracula himself, it may leave you thirsting for more.
Gothic Aesthetic
90
Drac Attacks
80
Plot
65
Pacing
40
69
SCORE
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