Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is an above-average current Universal horror


Review by Doug Gibson

"The Last Voyage of the Demeter" is a superb Gothic-type horror film. It's atmospheric, creepy with frightening scenes. I don't know if it will be a money-maker because it's a bleak tale. But it has an engrossing, suspenseful, and hopeful climax/ending.

“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” comprises chapter 7 of Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, in which the vampire travels to London. When the ship drifts into Whitby harbor, it’s deserted and the crew is dead. The depiction of the ship is realistic. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the musical score from Bear McCreary adds to the gothic dread and drama.

It’s a good cast. Of particular note is Aisling Franciosi, as Anna, a Roma woman stowed away on the ship to be essentially a chew toy for Dracula. Her character slowly gains resolve as her strength returns. Apparently the Anna character was a late addition by producers. It was a smart move. She’s a protagonist who provides courage and sacrifice in the life and death battle.

Also strong are Liam Cunningham as Captain Eliot, and Corey Hawkins as Clemens, a member of the crew. Clemens is a black doctor who cannot find employment in his profession due to racism. He saves Anna from death and eventually becomes the leader in the struggle to survive the vampire.

If there is a weakness, it is how Dracula is portrayed. I don’t mind the Nosferatu-like appearance, but having Dracula appear as a human-oid bat is a bit off. He looks like an outcast from the Island of Dr. Moreau. However, Javier Botet as Conde Dracula is creepy and savage and I am happy the producers resisted the urge to go all computer on the character.

The secret to a good horror film is that it provides character depth to the victims of evil. You, as the viewer, care about – and grieve the deaths of well-developed characters. This is what separates a classic horror film, such as “Halloween,” from slasher dreck like “Friday the 13th.”

In “… Demeter,” there is a well-developed, likable character that we sympathize with. This character is ultimately doomed. We grieve for this character’s fate. It adds to the horror because the filmmakers took the time for audiences to get to know this character.


This is an above-average film. It reminds me of a cross between Universal expressionism and the Hammer genre, with its savage, Nosferatu-like vampire. However, watching it I knew this would lose money. It's suspenseful but not often scary. It doesn't have the jump scares, head explosions and torture porn that many contemporary viewers want. I do think its reputation will increase with time.

A final note: As mentioned, the film seems to be underperforming at the box office. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent effort. I wonder today why $45 million would be spent on “…Demeter,” which is a solid B movie. If this film had cost $15 million it might have ended in the black and we’d be able to one day watch what the filmmakers appear to have set up as a potential sequel.