The Last Voyage of the Demeter is directed by André Øvredal and stars Corey Hawkins and Aisling Franciosi. The plot is taken from a section of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, during which Dracula takes a ship from Romania to England. Over the course of the journey, Dracula kills members of the crew, feeding off them one at a time before their arrival. Hawkins plays Clemens, a physician who, along with a former Dracula thrall (Franciosi), tries to kill Dracula.
The film begins with the end of the story, and anyone who has read Dracula knows basically how it all turns out. This story structure gives the whole film a relentless foreboding that dovetails with the film’s thematic treatment of fate and destiny. That is effective throughout most of the film’s more horrific sequences; however, keeping the fate of one young character secret might have been more effective, especially considering how well that sequence is shot and staged.
In some ways, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is like Dracula for Atheists. Many of the characters believe their fates to be fixed and their lives doomed; they call Dracula “the devil” and ascribe religious significance to the vampire and their journey. However, Clemens is a scientist and spends the movie seeking to understand Dracula from a secular point of view. This conflict between the Clemens and the rest of the crew becomes more interesting after the film’s climax.
On a nuts-and-bolts level, The Last Voyage of the Demeter has enough scares and gory sequences to satisfy the expectations of most fans. Although many of the scare sequences will feel familiar to most horror fans, there are only a few (still too many for my taste) cheap jump scares. The whole exercise is good enough without being at all exceptional, and except for Liam Cunningham who plays the Demeter’s captain with perfectly tuned gravelly gravitas and deeply felt pain, the performances are also unremarkable.
Overall, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a solid horror film with some interesting thematic elements. It is not essential Dracula viewing, but it stands as a fine addition to the extended mythos.