Now Streaming | The Last Voyage of the Demeter | 2023

The story of the Demeter is perhaps the most haunting passage from Bram Stoker's "Dracula." 

Written as a series of entries from the captain's log, Stoker's original novel describes the voyage of a sailing vessel called the Demeter on which Dracula's coffin travels from Transylvania to England. One by one, the crew mysteriously disappears until the derelict ship drifts unmanned into the harbor, its captain lashed to the wheel, dead. It's an eerie tale of creeping madness, as the crew descends into paranoia as an unknown entity picks them off at sea one by one. 

It's the kind of story that seems perfect for a standalone movie adaptation - most Dracula adaptations mostly skip right to the ghost ship drifting into the harbor. The problem with The Last Voyage of the Demeter is that it squanders the chilling possibilities of the story by revealing its hand far too early. It's a story that really needs that element of the unknown to work, but director André Øvredal (Troll Hunter, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark) shows the creature early and often and allows the characters to discern what's going on fairly quickly in order to mount a defense that culminates in a large-scale action showdown on the deck of the ship that seemingly squanders any build-up of mystery or suspense. The creature itself is also an extremely hit-or-miss CGI creation, and its lack of tangibility can be distracting. There's so much potential here - the rainy, windswept atmosphere is appropriately gloomy, but the film lacks any real sense of mystery. Dracula on a boat is a great concept, rife with possibility, but The Last Voyage of the Demeter is more interested in being a bloody creature feature, bulldozing the creepy sense of desolation and despair that permeates Stoker's prose.

GRADE - ★★ (out of four)

THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER | Directed by André Øvredal | Stars Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, David Dastmalchian, Javier Botet, Liam Cunningham | Rated R for bloody violence | Now streaming on Paramount+. 


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