“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” takes a daring leap into the pages of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, seizing upon a brief passage and transforming it into a captivating maritime horror experience. Directed by André Øvredal, the film offers an unexpected and haunting addition to the vampire genre, blending old-school nautical drama with bloodthirsty terror.
The story unfolds aboard the Demeter, a Russian ship en route from Varna to London in what should have been a routine journey. However, as the crew members grapple with mysterious occurrences and unsettling sightings, it becomes evident that this voyage is anything but ordinary. The captain (Liam Cunningham), the first mate (David Dastmalchian), and the diverse crew members exude authenticity, making the audience feel the salty sea breeze and the creaking of the ship’s timbers. The film’s attention to period detail and atmospheric tension creates a palpable sense of dread.
Among the passengers are Dr. Clemens (Corey Hawkins), a Cambridge-educated physician, and Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a stowaway with an enigmatic illness. As the ship plows through dark waters, the presence of an aristocratic stranger and the eerie cargo he’s brought onboard fuel the growing sense of unease. The enigmatic figure lurking on deck becomes a focal point, linked to bizarre livestock slaughters and crew members vanishing without a trace.
Javier Botet’s portrayal of Dracula is a far cry from the refined and suave depictions often seen on screen. This incarnation is a feral, clawed, and bald creature of the night, reminiscent of Salem’s Lot and Nosferatu. The film’s homage to F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu is evident in its chilling onboard sequences and its dedication to a genuinely terrifying interpretation of the vampire. Øvredal embraces the film’s dark and unsettling moments, crafting an atmosphere that leaves no one aboard the ship safe from the encroaching horror.
“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” successfully resurrects a minor moment from Dracula and transforms it into a captivating horror odyssey. It’s a voyage that pays homage to both nautical period pieces and classic vampire lore, anchored by exceptional performances and an unrelenting sense of foreboding. For those seeking a blend of maritime adventure and Gothic horror, this film provides a sinister voyage that’s not for the faint of heart.