THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER
Starring: Corey Hawkins, Liam Cunningham, David Dastmalchian, Chris Walley, Jon Jon Briones, Stefan Kapicic, Aisling Franciosi, Woody Norman, Martin Furulund, Nikolai Nikolaeff, and Javier Botet
Director: André Øvredal
For a film set almost entirely on the water, it’s a disheartening thing to witness just how dry The Last Voyage of the Demeter actually is in nearly every respect. Apart from some neat creature prosthetics (which are seldom seen) and a so-so action sequence (which lasts all of one minute), the film is essentially two hours of waiting for something interesting to happen, only to cut to the next scene every time something does. The bones of a solid creature feature are there; there’s just no meat on them. Even the largely solid cast can’t overcome bad pacing.
With The Last Voyage of the Demeter, I felt like I was also on an excruciatingly long and uncomfortable voyage across the vast sea expanse of a cherry-picked Bram Stoker excerpt, whose primary merit is that it substitutes itself perfectly in this particular trope. The dialogue is strained while the storytelling flip-flops between the protagonist’s search for meaning and a confusing epistolary narration that only adds to the inconsistency felt from beginning to thankful end. The haphazard attempts at character development simply fail, and I found myself rooting for the “demon,” if only to get closer to the journey’s conclusion.
While The Last Voyage of Demeter isn’t a must see, I’m not as down on it as my cohorts. Sure, it drags at times, which is to be expected when a single book chapter is stretched out to fill a 119-minute movie, but it does decently well in maintaining an atmosphere of dread and foreboding throughout. This is mostly thanks to director André Øvredal’s use of light and shadows to successfully build upon the notion that the scariest thing is the thing you can’t see. Don’t read into this as a comparison of quality, but it’s kinda like Alien on a Victorian-era merchant ship.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter squanders so much potential that it’s borderline tragic. A horror movie about Dracula (Javier Botet) massacring folks on a boat? Sounds like a blast, right? Well, unfortunately, director André Øvredal made the idea just way too bland to enjoy. Its talented cast is mostly wasted, and the scares rely less on tension and more on Dracula jumping at the screen, hoping to God that counts as scary. And above all, I was just bored, which is the last thing I should have been for this movie. A fun idea that never once sets sail.
As a fan of André Øvredal’s direction, I had high hopes for The Last Voyage of the Demeter. I love the idea of Dracula (Javier Botet) massacring sailors, but I can’t deny how bored I felt throughout most of its runtime. The one-note characters keep the film from having any stakes, which isn’t great when you’re dealing with a vampire. Dracula’s skeletal design was spooky, but poorly lit cinematography, quick cutting, and muddy effects really takes the wind out of his sails. I was hoping to give Demeter the benefit of the doubt, but I just couldn’t sink my teeth into this one.