The Last Voyage of the Demeter (André Øvredal, 2023, USA/UK/Malta/Italy/Germany)

A long-gestating projectThe Last Voyage of the Demeter hit the screens this summer with fairly little fanfare. The second of two films released in the Universal Monster canon this year (following Renfield), the Demeter takes the Dracula mythos more seriously, although the film is - on its own - irreverent. André Øvredal was brought on board to direct the film. He is a director who has made a name for himself in the horror genre, most recently with his screen adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The visual sense of the film is perhaps the strongest aspect of the entire film.

The film recounts the story of the ship that gave passage to Dracula from a port in Bulgaria to England. While this aspect of the story is given only a few diary entries in Bram Stoker's original novel, and only appeared shortly in various Dracula films, it has yet to be given its film. The lead here, however, is not the captain writing the diary, but Corey Hawkins as Clemens, a trained doctor who has resorted to being a shiphand in the face of discrimination (Clemens is black). Clemens hardly defined search for meaning in the universe forms the narrative thrust of the story.

Aside from somewhat weak characterization, the film's biggest fundamental flaw is built into the script itself - we know what is going to happen to these characters, so there is a huge task of building suspense. The film does its best and even includes something of a twist ending, but it is hard to give life to the story. The representation of Dracula is purely monstrous here, and he certainly is threatening, though we had hoped the film would play more with the character. Demeter is a flawed but entertaining elaboration of the Dracula story.



Popular Posts