Movie Review: The Last Voyage of the Demeter



 Movie Review: The Last Voyage of the Demeter by Henry McMullen

I’ll always have tremendously high hopes for a vampire story. 

And an imagined film based on the one chapter in Bram Stoker’s original Dracula novel that tells the rather brief tale of the Prince of Darkness’ ocean voyage from Transylvania to England sounded like great fun. 

If you have any kind of working knowledge or passing fancy of who and what Dracula is/was, you know that the ship that was to haul huge crates from the Count’s castle to his new home abroad. He was nowhere to be found, but, unbeknownst to the crew, he whiled away the days during the long voyage, hidden within one of the dirt filled crates, then wreaked havoc when the sun disappeared. 

This is pure Dracula lore and if you think that’s a spoiler, this film is not for you. These are things of legendary fiction. 

What the film does is stretch the voyage out over two hours (the original chapter being roughly 16 pages).  It presents Dracula as director F.W. Murnau’s Nosfetatu. 

The monster is a monster. There is no glamouring. There is no transforming into the sexier side of Dracula. There is only a winged beast on a boat that becomes increasingly claustrophobic. Especially in the darkened, shadowy bowels of the ship where every movement made with an oil lamp throws shadow or light onto the crew’s rampant paranoia. 

The director does a fine job displaying their panic as bloody bodies with throats torn out begin to stack up but there is one death that almost shocked me. And because the  shock was so slight, it happens worse, the second time. And to the same person!

I enjoyed the film but it could have used an edit. Maybe 10 minutes, but in trimming any of those scenes of well-paced dread would have defeated the purpose of well-crafted mood and atmosphere.  You have to wait to see the monster, but when you do, it doesn’t stop its chase until its blood lust is satisfied. 

The film’s cast and crew, including Corey Hawkins and his mysteriously disappearing/reappearing cockney accent as the lone voice of reason and Liam Cunningham from Game of Thrones lending the film his worldly gravitas as an aged, wisened old seafarer making his final voyage. 

The film would have been better suited as an episodic period drama on AMC’s network, known for their love of the creature feature and they know how to not rush a story.  

This is not Coppola’s Dracula with Gary Oldman. Go into it knowing that. It is, however, a nice primer for the forthcoming remake of Nosferatu which hopefully has more……..not bite……but panache. 

Henry McMullen


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