The Last Voyage of the Demeter

Another vampire movie that sucks.

Corey Hawkins gives a likable performance as a black doctor named Clemens in 1897 Bulgaria, who joins the ship known as the Demeter, which is on a voyage to London. On board the ship is a stowaway who is need of a blood transfusion, which the doctor provides, and someone or something is slaughtering animals and the crew on the ship at night. That someone or something is known as the vampire Dracula.

Unfortunately, not even Hawkins could save the horror film “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” from sinking. In fact, it ends up being boring and derivative. It’s not exactly “Dracula” with Bela Lugosi. It’s not even “Renfield” with Nicholas Hoult and Nicolas Cage. You’re more interested in the production design of the ship and the leading man, than you are on the script or any of the vampire attacks. In fact, there’s even less blood than “Renfield” provided. Not that I’m too big into blood and gore or anything.

The passengers on the ship include the Captain Elliot (Liam Cunningham), his grandson Toby (Woody Norman), the first mate Wojchek (David Dastmalchian), and the cook Jospeh (Jon Jon Briones). And they’re all carrying a big crate with something inside on their long voyage.

Wojchek is looking for strong men for his the ship, not passengers like he describes Clemens. But when a shipmate almost drops the crate on Toby, the doctor saves the boy’s life just in time. The Captain is grateful, and that shipmate is let go, so Wojchek has to let the doctor on board.

And the stowaway is a young woman named Anna (Aisling Franciosi), who has various marks on her body, and no one-not even the doctor-can determine what’s wrong with her. But she knows that they’re all in terrible danger from Dracula.

“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” is based on “The Captain’s Log” from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” and is directed by Andre Overdal (“Scary Stories We Tell in the Dark”). He’s a filmmaker who can specialize in the horror genre, but he doesn’t give this Dracula tale a devilish spin. He just relies on darkness, storms, standard characters, and a certain door scene that wants to echo “The Shining.” For a haunting Dracula film to be, well, haunting, there has to be a storyline that you can sink your teeth into, and there has to be something original within. It has the right leading man to deal with this monster, and that would happen to be Hawkins, but it has the wrong script written by Bragi Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz. It kind of plays like another “Alien” wannabe. In fact, Schut Jr. admitted that’s what he was going for.

The Demeter looks riveting enough for the voyage to take place, and it looks just as well in the stormy sequences, but that’s all there is to the horror. It takes too long to really get us involved with the horrors, and they get pretty loud as well. And plus, this Dracula is treated more as a CGI monster than an actual villain. There’s no personality in him. Even Lugosi wouldn’t approve of him.

I met Hawkins at a screening of “The Tragedy of Macbeth” at the New York Film Festival, and I got a picture of him giving me a thumbs up after complementing his performance in the film. Unfortunately, I have to give his latest movie a thumbs down.

Rating: 1.5 out of 4.

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.

Categories: Horror

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