Based on “The Captain’s Log,” a chapter from the Dracula novel by Bram Stoker, The Last Voyage of the Demeter builds on this section of the iconic horror story and delivers a chilling and creepy feature film. With a solid screenplay by Bragi Schut Jr and Zak Olkewicz, director André Øvredal beautifully builds up the atmosphere and tension to present a Dracula movie that is more akin to F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu than it is to Tod Browning’s 1931 adaptation of Dracula. Nothing is charming or disarming about this beastly vampire who, like a ferocious animal, attacks for blood and carnage.
Corey Hawkins stars as Clemens, an unemployed doctor desperately seeking work who happens to come across the crew of the charter ship known as the Demeter. Though Wojchek (David Dastmalchian), Demeter’s first mate, believes the good doctor is not sea-worthy, he gets vetoed by the well-seasoned Captain Elliott (Liam Cunningham), who soon announces that their latest charter will be his last. The Captain’s last voyage at the helm involves shipping a large crate with unknown contents from Transylvania to London, England.
As the Demeter and its crew launch toward their destination, they eventually discover they must endure more than treacherous water, rats, long work hours, and bad food. As the crew begins dying unnaturally, one by one, they quickly realize that a supernatural creature has stowed away and is hunting them nightly.
Though the film starts slowly, once the tension starts building and the killing begins, The Last Voyage of the Demeter takes off. There is a little depth to the story, but The Demeter works very well as an ethereal and eerie monster flick. The movie reminded me a little of Ridley Scott’s Alien, but if that movie didn’t take place in space, but on the high seas. Before anyone can gripe at me for making such a comparison, I am not saying that this movie is as iconic or masterful as Alien, but they share similar beats.
André Øvredal and his crew do a great job setting up the scene, building the suspense, and delivering frights and kill competently. Once I got into the movie, I could not take my eyes off it. In addition, the cast in the film is excellent, with all the actors delivering top-notch performances. My favorites in the movie would be Corey Hawkins (who rarely disappoints), David Dastmalchian (who is always awesome), Liam Cunningham, and Aisling Franciosi, an unexpected stowaway the crew discovers during the journey.
Given the dark aesthetic of the movie and the lovely visuals either captured or created for it, I recommend watching this movie in a theater. I wouldn’t spend top dollar to watch it, but a discount matinee is what the film deserves. So far, I have enjoyed all of the movies of André Øvredal and will look forward to what he does next.