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The Last Voyage of the Demeter: A New Kind of Dracula Story

Movie Poster from Universal Press Package. Photo acquired from Universal Pictures. All rights reserved to Universal.
Movie Poster from Universal Press Package. Photo acquired from Universal Pictures. All rights reserved to Universal.

Dracula is one of the most well-known and beloved horror stories of all time. Written in 1897, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a horror classic which people still read and enjoy today. The novel has received numerous film interpretations, most famously in 1932 with Belo Lugosi playing the charming count. However, The Last Voyage of the Demeter contains no charming nobleman who seduces beautiful women before drinking their blood. 

This Last Voyage of the Demeter, released August 11th, adapts chapter 7 of Dracula, titled “The Captain’s Log”. The screenplay was written by Bragi Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz. Originally, Schut had written it over two decades ago; however, the movie was left in developmental hell until at last production began with André Øverdal directing.

The movie follows the crew of the Demeter, a Russian shipping vessel heading to Whitby, England. Unbeknownst to the crew, their cargo includes the horrifying monster known as Dracula. The movie sees them attempt to survive their doomed voyage with the hungry count. Overall the movie has a somewhat similar plot to 1978’s Alien, which also saw the crew of a shipping vessel take on a murderous passenger. 

One important difference between The Last Voyage of the Demeter and other Dracula movies is its depiction of the Count. In most Dracula media the Count is portrayed as a creepy nobleman with beautiful clothes and sophisticated speech. The Last Voyage of the Demeter’s Count has neither sophistication, nor clothes. He is a naked, scrawny monster who attacks his victims with no subtlety or grace, he tears into them like a wild animal. 

Fans of the Twilight  series may be disappointed to learn this vampire is not a supermodel, but a monster. This depiction of the count is closest to the first film adaptation of Dracula’s story, Nosferatu (not called Dracula, as the director did not actually have rights to the story). In Nosferatu, the Count still dresses like a nobleman, but his face and hands are inhuman. The Last Voyage of the Demeter’s Dracula clearly draws from this depiction. His face is inhuman, his mouth more like that of an animal than a man, and with sharp pointed ears. 

This more monstrous Dracula leads to The Last Voyage of the Demeter steering clear of the usual vampire movie tropes; no dashing vampires, no eerie manors, and no sexualized seduction of an ‘innocent’ woman.

Photo acquired from Universal Pictures. All rights reserved to universal.
Photo acquired from Prana Film. All rights reserved to Prana Film.











The movie’s budget was 45 million dollars and it shows, the movie looks fantastic all the way through, never did a shot feel cheap or poorly made, and CGI was not too noticeable. Overall, the movie is very pretty with great visuals and set pieces, especially if you are fans of 19th century  horror imagery (as I am). The acting was believable, though no performance stood out in my view. No character was poorly written or annoying (the Captain was my favorite). However, it did feel like it dragged a bit at times, especially in the “rising action” portion of the movie. This is a story that has been told before. It is the classic “haunted house” trope. A bunch of people are stuck in a palace with a monster; however, The Last Voyage of the Demeter manages to inject some fun into this tired trope. There are interesting elements that vampire mythology adds to this trope, though they are spoilers, so I will leave the details out. 

One of the movie’s biggest flaws (though it may be a bonus to some) is that the movie is not really scary. The movie succeeds in creating an uneasy, spooky atmosphere. But, only one part in the movie actually scared me, and that was a jump scare when we first see Dracula (granted, it was a pretty good jump scare).

 The Last Voyage of the Demeter has a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 76% audience score. Personally, I disagree with the public’s opinion. This movie is not the best horror movie, and it is certainly not the best Dracula movie, but it entertains, and that is what a movie is intended to do. Now, there is one caveat to this recommendation, if you are not a fan of the stylings of the movie, that being vampires and a 19th century horror aesthetic (one might even go so far as to call it “gothic”), then you will likely not enjoy this movie. If this movie sounds right up your alley (as it was for me) you can still find it in theaters, which I would recommend is where you watch it, but it can also be rented for a fee from a number of streaming services. 

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