Tuesday 5 September 2023

REVIEW: The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) Starring Javier Botet

Review by Jon Donnis
"The Last Voyage of the Demeter" takes audiences on a chilling journey that successfully resurrects the classic tale of Dracula with a fresh and haunting perspective. Directed by André Øvredal and penned by Bragi F. Schut Jr. and Zak Olkewicz, this 2023 supernatural horror film navigates the treacherous waters of horror with a blend of atmospheric dread and savage surprises.

The film's premise revolves around the ill-fated voyage of the merchant ship Demeter, led by the capable Corey Hawkins as Clemens, a doctor who unwittingly joins the doomed crew. A standout performance comes from Aisling Franciosi as Anna, a stowaway enslaved by the sinister Dracula, portrayed with eerie mastery by Javier Botet. The cast, including Liam Cunningham as Captain Elliot and David Dastmalchian as first mate Wojchek, delivers solid performances that anchor the film.

One of the film's strengths lies in its ability to create a thick atmosphere of dread. From the moment the Demeter sets sail from Varna, Bulgaria, to its eventual arrival on the British coast, viewers are enveloped in an aura of impending doom. The cinematography and sound design work in tandem to maintain a sense of unease throughout the film.

"The Last Voyage of the Demeter" impressively balances horror and suspense. It skilfully incorporates the source material from Bram Stoker's "Dracula," breathing new life into a classic tale while maintaining its core essence. The film's reliance on the original "Captain's Log" chapter adds depth and intrigue to the narrative.

Furthermore, the movie is filled with delightfully savage surprises that keep the audience engaged and on the edge of their seats. The unexpected turns in the plot and the relentless pursuit of Dracula create a sense of urgency that keeps the story moving at a brisk pace.

However, it's worth noting that the film does have its limitations. Given its source material, there's a certain predictability to the storyline. Those familiar with the Dracula legend will find few surprises in terms of the overall narrative arc. Nevertheless, the film manages to inject enough fresh elements and suspense to keep viewers engrossed.

In summary, "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" is a smart, well-made, and sometimes downright creepy take on the Dracula legend. It successfully taps into the iconic vampire's lore while offering a fresh perspective. The combination of a talented cast, atmospheric dread, and savage surprises makes it a compelling horror film that will satisfy both die-hard horror buffs and general moviegoers. While it may not completely escape the trappings of its source material, it manages to carve its own path in the shadow of the vampire.

I score The Last Voyage of the Demeter a solid 8/10

Out now in cinemas and on Apple TV at https://apple.co/3r1KDh6
You can also pick up the book at https://amzn.to/3LcSVcK