• Wed. Apr 17th, 2024


ByTaylor T Carlson

Aug 10, 2023

THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER is directed by Andre Ovredal. The film stars Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, Liam Cunningham, and David Dastmalchian. It’s based on a chapter from Bram Stoker’s classic novel DRACULA.

In the latter years of the 19th century, the ship Demeter is hired to transport crates from Transylvania to London, with the crew including a retiring captain, his second-in-command being groomed to take over, a young boy, and a doctor who joins the crew at the last minute. But stormy seas aren’t the only threat the crew must face. It isn’t long before mysterious goings-on are afoot, including the discovery of a female stowaway, and strange and gruesome deaths. What haunts the boat, and will the crew reach their destination alive?

In the original novel DRACULA, the title character is transported via boat from his home in Transylvania to more heavily populated London. DEMETER is an attempt to flesh out what happens during that chapter of the novel, from the view of a captain’s log. I admit I’ve never thought about what all happened in that time period, but the premise of this film certainly intrigued me, being a fan of classic horror. While the film certainly isn’t Oscar material, it’s certainly a thrilling way to kill two hours with a claustrophobic, haunting mood on the high seas combined with a new take on one of classic literature and film’s most iconic villains. It’s the deepest thing you’ll ever see, but it delivers what it promises.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that one of DEMETER’s most entertain aspects is its human element. While I’ll be the first to admit some of the characters are a bit interchangeable and one-dimensional, there are a handful of compelling characters, including a ship’s doctor who comes on as a last minute arrival to the crew, a woman who may already be under Dracula’s spell, and even a young boy subject to the horrors of what awaits. But through it all, the movie does succeed in creating human ties and a sense of desperation against impossible odds. I do appreciate that the movie at least has some depth, and isn’t just a mindless bloodbath.

The movie doesn’t go to into the story of Dracula himself, and rarely shows the character on screen for more than a few brief moments at a time, similar to the shark in the original JAWS. This incarnation is a far cry from the handsome, refined gentlemanly incarnation of the character portrayed by Bela Lugosi way back in 1931. Instead, this take on Vlad the Impaler depicts him as a hideous, ugly winged demon, essentially resembling Count Orlok from 1922’s NOSFERATU (itself an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula) but with the addition of wings. He makes for a fearsome menace, lurking in the ship’s shadows, and striking by night. The actions of the antagonist of DEMETER aren’t shocking (we all pretty much know where this story is going and what the fates of the characters will be), but they’re pulled off effectively enough. This movie doesn’t rewrite the book on Dracula or radically reinvent the character, but it at least makes him scary again, and for most audiences, that’ll be enough.

Production values are solid as well, with the vast majority of the movie taking place on a ship at sea. The haunting mood of the film is helped by the solidly executed setting, never letting the audience forget the desolation and lack of anywhere to flee to. While there are the expected and often annoying jump scares, the haunting mood of DEMETER gets the job done.

This isn’t the most original film ever made, though as a horror fan I do appreciate the concept of trying to flesh out a single chapter of the DRACULA novel. At roughly two hours, it’s about 20 minutes too long, but it’s a solid enough execution and certainly no slouch in delivering the haunts and the R-rated violence when the film calls for it. Horror fans shouldn’t be disappointed in DEMETER. Strongly recommended, but certainly not for the squeamish!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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