I anxiously awaited the release of this movie for several months. Based on a single chapter of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula it focuses its attention on the doomed journey of the ship Demeter from Bulgaria to England. You can look at it as a literally down-to-earth version of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien. We have a ship and its crew trying to survive the terrifying attacks of a powerful creature. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a visually impressive and atmospheric horror movie featuring none other than the most famous vampire Dracula.
It’s gloomy and creepy right from the opening scene slowly increasing the tension over the next 109 minutes. The wide shots of the Bulgarian countryside and depressing British coastline look mighty impressive. And then we find ourselves in a fantasy video game town. Once we have our crew, the journey can begin. Since the title of the movie is The Last Voyage of the Demeter, you kind of already know what’s going to happen. I mean, even if you don’t know anything about the novel, it’s obvious that this trip is not going to end well. The only question that remains is how the whole thing is going to play out.
The writers didn’t have much to work with so I was hoping they were going to do something that The Thing prequel, also titled The Thing from 2011 did. I mean, they had significantly less material than this movie and the end result was a fucking masterpiece. Alas, the signs that this isn’t going to be a great movie started to appear pretty early on. The dialogue was a bit off and stereotypical along with the characters. Sometimes that can be a good thing but the more the time went on the more it showed signs of mediocrity. Are realistic characters and their reactions too much to ask for? Even if you want certain scenes to happen you can find workarounds.
Since our Liam Cunningham plays the captain comparisons to Game of Thrones are inevitable. Just remember how good the writing was there during the naval scenes. Another great example is the miniseries The North Water starring Colin Farrell. If your captain is so passive why don’t you make him an alcoholic mourning the death of his wife? That would explain why he doesn’t do more when the ship is clearly in danger. However, it would appear that the writers were locked in these morally righteous characters without any wiggle room.
I’m guessing some of the pressure came from Universal to make a ” crowd-pleasing mainstream horror movie”. And this also extends to the casting choices. The Last Voyage of the Demeter compensates for these flaws with an excellent foreboding and distinctly dark atmosphere. The visuals were also excellent as both the sets and special effects were quite believable. The attacks themselves and the ensuing fight between the humans onboard and Dracula were graphic and vicious. All of these elements will surely satisfy any horror fan and casual viewer looking for some scares. On top of it all stands the creature itself, Count Dracula played by Spanish actor Javier Botet.
In this movie, Dracula is not the smooth and handsome motherfucker from such movies as Dracula 1994 and Dracula 2000. He’s a vicious creature more reminiscent of the iconic 1922 movie Nosferatu. And just to be perfectly clear, most of the scenes featuring Dracula are only enhanced by CGI. You see, Javier Botet suffers from Marpha syndrome and has extremely long arms, legs, and fingers. He’s also skinny giving him an incredibly frightening appearance after the make-up department is done with him. If you saw the Spanish horror masterpiece REC you know what I’m talking about.
While we’re mentioning other movies, I want you to pay attention to the overall structure of The Last Voyage of the Demeter and compare it to the eighties classic Predator. Some of the dialogue was eerily similar with Stefan Kapicic playing the role of both Billy and Mac. What makes the whole thing even weirder is that both movies feature a female character called Anna who has intimate knowledge of the alien threat. Que paso mujer, que paso mujer? The ship came alive and took him…
We should also consider the fact that this movie spent twenty years in developmental hell changing numerous writers and directors. So, kudos to André Øvredal for making it happen. He’s one of the reasons why I was so excited as he’s the man behind the nasty 2016 horror The Autopsy of Jane Doe. The cast also did a good job, especially Corey Hawkins, Stefan Kapicic, and David Dastmalchian. The ending was obviously set up for a sequel and we can expect one in the near future.
Director: André Øvredal
Writers: Bragi F. Schut, Zak Olkewicz, Bram Stoker
Cast: Corey Hawkins, Liam Cunningham, David Dastmalchian, Stefan Kapicic, Aisling Franciosi
Fun Facts: Both Guillermo del Toro and Stephen King say they love the movie.