The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Posted on August 10, 2023 at 5:56 pmC-
|Lowest Recommended Age:||Mature High Schooler|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated R for bloody violence|
|Profanity:||Mild old-fashioned language including racist epithet|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Extended peril and violence with many jump scares and disturbing, graphic images, many characters murdered including a child, fires|
|Diversity Issues:||An issue in the film|
|Date Released to Theaters:||August 11, 2023|
There have been more than 80 movies about Bram Stoker’s Dracula and many, many more inspired but the original story of the Transylvanian nobleman who sleeps by day, never drinks wine, but sucks the blood from human victims unless they’re lucky enough to be carrying garlic and crosses. We’ve seen decadent but elegant vampires, sexy vampires, teenage vampires, even cute cartoon vampires. And now we have “The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” a title that gives away the ending away. That is a good thing if what you are looking for is seeing the ship’s crew picked off one by one, signaled with ominous music. Otherwise, skip it.
It is beautiful to look at. The cinematography of Roman Osin and Tom Stern and the settings from production designer Edward Thomas have created an evocative world of 1890s sailing ships and their ports. But the dialogue is clunky, the story is predictable, and most of the characters are one-dimensional. It just makes films that really make you appreciate the artistry of the best of a beast in an enclosed, isolated space films like “Alien” and “The Thing” even more.
Corey Hawkins is the exception as Clemens, a last-minute addition to the crew when one member is spooked by the dragon insignias on a crate being loaded onto the ship. He is an educated man of science with expertise in celestial navigation and medicine. As the other crew members talk about what they are going to to with the bonus money they will get for an on-time delivery of the cargo, Clemens says what he wants money cannot buy — he wants “to understand the world.”
Also on board, at least a the beginning of the voyage, are the Captain (Liam Cunningham), who has decided this will be his last trip, his young grandson (“C’mon C’mon’s” soulful-eyed Woody Norman), and the crew member picked to take over the Captain’s job, David Dastmalchian and Wojchec
The ship sets sail with high spirits and good humor. But then things start to get unsettling, weird and very scary. We know this already because we see what is happening, but just in case we get suspenseful music and portentous dialogue, both heavy-handed.
There are animals on board, including a beloved dog. Something attacks them. Suspicion falls on the new crew member. Inside one of the crates is…a badly injured woman, unconscious and infected. Clemens gives her blood transfusions while crew members suggest tossing her overboard. He wants to take her to the nearest port but no one wants to miss the on-time bonus. So they keep sailing.
And that means we have one dark, stormy night after another, and that means one victim after another. The woman finally regains consciousness to provide some exposition. Her name is Anna (“Game of Thrones'” Aisling Franciosi) and she is a snack, not just in the current slang sense meaning attractive but in the sense of being a nosh for the personification of evil in the crate with the dragon on it.
This version of Dracula is not the kind to be warded off with a cross or a Bible. He can appear and disappear, and as he gets stronger, there are other powers, too. But he does not have enough powers to make this movie more than a series of jump scares and graphic injuries.
Parents should know that this is a horror movie with a vampire, so almost all of the characters are killed in very graphic and disturbing ways. This includes a child and a beloved pet and characters who sacrifice themselves to save others. Some characters burst into flames. There is some crude talk and a racist epithet.
Family discussion: Who had to make the most difficult choice? Which version of Dracula do you like the best?
If you like this, try: Some of the other Dracula movies including the classic with Bela Lugosi and “Nosferatu” — and the book by Bram Stoker