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Don’t expect a radical retelling of the Dracula myth in The Last Voyage of the Demeter but an old-school horror tale that would have worked better had the scares been as good as the brooding atmosphere.

Few movies have in in development hell as long as The Last Voyage of the Demeter but you wouldn’t know that from the finished product. On the contrary, the picture presents itself as an old-fashioned, sumptuously designed huis-clos creature feature that might as well be described as ‘Alien on a 19th century ship’.

Of course, the creature in question is no alien but Dracula, making his way from Transylvania to England on the titular vessel, as described in the 20-page chapter from Bram Stoker’s original vampire novel. Which is partly why the movie was doomed from the outset.

Not only do the filmmakers have to pad the narrative substantially in order to expand that one chapter into a feature-length film, because you know the outcome from the beginning, the movie also lacks suspense, which isn’t ideal for a horror flick.

Seasoned genre director André Øvredal partly makes up for those shortcomings by steeping The Last Voyage of the Demeter in a suitably gloomy, foreboding atmosphere, which specifically works a treat in the film’s first half. Casting character actors like Liam Cunningham and David Dastmalchian alongside younger cast members like Corey Hawkins also adds to the picture’s appeal.

But once the mystery surrounding the soil-filled crates in the ship’s hull is exposed and Dracula unleashes his wrath upon the crew, the slow, moody, fun build-up unfortunately mostly disintegrates into predictable monster fare that lacks bite.

release: 2023

director: André Øvredal

starring: Corey Hawkins, Liam Cunningham, David Dastmalchian, Aisling Franciosi


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