Film Review: The Last Voyage of the Demeter – 6.5/10

‘A boat without rats – such a thing is against nature...’

“I can’t see a bloody thing” proclaims one of the crew members of the doomed ship Demeter in the third act of André Øvredal’s retelling of the vampire myth. I can relate. I watched this in a dark room with the blinds drawn and there were still moments that it was difficult to make out what was going on. This is incredibly frustrating because when Voyage is good, it’s really good…

Eliot (Liam Cunningham) captains the good shop Demeter with skill and grace despite choppy waters, surly crew members and an actual Dracula running around the place. Deck hand Wojcheck (David Dastmalchian) and ship doctor Clemens (Corey Hawkins) attempt to solve the mystery of why people keep turning up dead and covered in bite marks. As for the count himself, he is only viewed in dispatches and always in his grotesque animalistic form. There is no room for the suave Count Dracula aboard this ship.

Øvredal does a great job of building a tense and foreboding atmosphere. Rain and shadow. Wind and fog. It all helps to build suspense. The issue is that the nature of the source material ensures that everyone aboard the ship must be dead or missing by the end of the film. That’s what the Demeter is most famous for. This robs the film of any of the twists and turns required and it also limits Øvredal in terms of plot. Indeed, this is a surprisingly restrained film. It’s competent but it also feels safe and plodding in places. This story had the potential to be Alien but with a vampire in the olden days – doesn’t that sound wonderful? In the end, The Last Voyage of the Demeter flatters to deceive. It’s fine.

I still think when done right there is a place for a great and innovative vampire movie. This isn’t it. Hopefully, Robert Eggers’ retelling of Nosferatu (due later this year) will be one such film.