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
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 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
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.