‘The Last Voyage of the Demeter’ is a Terrifying Take on Dracula | Review

The Last Voyage of the Demeter has sailed into theaters and I’m here to let you know if it is worth checking out.

As a longtime fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, my interest was immediately peaked when I saw the trailer for The Last Voyage of the Demeter. For those not familiar, the film is loosely based on a subplot in the novel where the Demeter, a ship contracted to carry a number of crates from Dracula’s castle to England, arrives as a derelict with no living survivors aboard. Only the captain’s log sheds any details on the horrifying events that happened to the crew during the voyage. It is the captain’s log that the film expands upon.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Directed By: André Øvredal
Written By: Bragi Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz
Starring: Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, Liam Cunningham, David Dastmalchian
Release Date: August 11, 2023

The film does a remarkably good job of pulling the audience in to the story, even though the Demeter’s fate is made a foregone conclusion from the very outset. All of the crew members are fleshed out individuals that you get to know before things start to go sideways, making the eventual deaths that much more painful.

Speaking of the crew, the film has a magnificent cast. Liam Cunningham’s performance as the captain of the doomed ship is particularly noteworthy, as you see this veteran sailor slowly worn down and finally broken by the horrors slowly encroaching onto his ship. Another performance I enjoyed was that of Corey Hawkins as Clemens, the ship’s doctor. It’s always interesting to see how a “rational man of science” like Clemens handles being confronted with direct evidence of the supernatural and I found the way things played out to be very realistic without going too over the top.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter wisely wastes little time in getting to the horror part of the story. This is easily the type of film that could’ve gotten bogged down in random story details before getting to the “good part” and thankfully the filmmakers didn’t allow that to happen. The film does play a somewhat long game when it comes to revealing Dracula in full, which I feel is for the best as it only helps to heighten the tension. For most of the film, you only see the legendary vampire in a quick shot or somewhat obscured. In hindsight, it reminds me somewhat of how the xenomorph was filmed in Alien.  Somehow, only seeing glimpses of Dracula makes the feeling of horror that much worse.

Unlike Alien, we do eventually see the vampire in all his horrific glory and it does not disappoint. For the vampire’s overall appearance, it’s almost as if the filmmakers consulted a number of previous screen adaptations of Dracula and combined them into the creature seen in this film. Most notably, Dracula’s face is heavily inspired by the appearance of Count Orlok in the iconic 1922 vampire film Nosferatu. It was interesting to see a century-old film homaged in 2023.

If The Last Voyage of the Demeter has one weakness though, it’s Dracula’s appearance. While many will no doubt appreciate the Easter eggs tucked into Dracula’s appearance, some viewers might be disappointed or confused by how monstrous the vampire looks. More often than not, when audiences think of Dracula, they think of a dashingly handsome villain with fangs. Don’t mistake me, I like that version of Dracula very much, but that’s not the version of Dracula we’re given here. My genuine hope is that audiences open their minds and consider that this version of the vampire is just as valid as more handsome versions.

One detail I must mention is Bear McCreary’s fantastic score for this film. Once again, he’s absolutely nailed what this film needed as far as the music goes. Even before a single death has happened, the music makes it plain that there is something very wrong with the crates being loaded aboard the ship. Once Dracula starts prowling the ship, the music becomes pure horror and just serves to draw you even further in.

Finally, perhaps I read too much into the ending of the film, but it seemed to me that a possible sequel was teased just before the credits rolled. Honestly, I enjoyed the film enough that I would be interested to see what a sequel with this version of Dracula would look like. Even if the story isn’t continued into the rest of the familiar story, this ride was enjoyable enough that I would happily go see it again.

Even though The Last Voyage of the Demeter isn’t a “traditional” Dracula story, it’s a great horror film and a fine addition to the many films that feature the iconic vampire. I highly recommend seeing it in theaters, you won’t regret it.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter
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Becky O'Brien
Armed with a PhD. in Musicology, Becky loves to spend their time watching movies and playing video games, and listening to the soundtracks of both whenever they have the time. Can usually be seen writing for Cinelinx though they also do a bit of work for Screen Age Wasteland too. Their favorite superheroes are Batwoman and Spider-Gwen.
the-last-voyage-of-the-demeter-is-a-terrifying-take-on-dracula-reviewA slightly non-traditional take on Dracula doesn't detract in the slightest from the fact that The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a terrifying horror film that leaves you on the edge of your seat for almost the duration of its two hour run time. Definitely a film that should be seen on the biggest screen possible for maximum terror.