I’d been a fan of horror films since I was a kid, especially the Hammer Films’ Dracula series starring Christopher Lee as the reigning prince of darkness. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any truly excellent vampire films in recent years. The majority of them are ridiculous comedies that are neither scary nor hilarious. At the very least, there are some jewels in the genre on TV (Midnight Mass by Mike Flanagan comes to mind). I was excited when I heard about this film, which is based on a chapter of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula as it has potential of being a serious vampire tale. It mostly follows the happenings aboard the ill-fated Demeter, which is transporting a mystery cargo of wooden boxes from Transylvania to London. Among the boxes are Dracula’s and some of his victims’ bodies, which are apparently to be used as fodder for the prince of darkness.
The setting has a lot of potential for a nice old-fashioned vampire yarn. Indeed, the film capitalized on this with a stunning recreation of a grand wooden schooner accompanied by a crew destined to be victims while navigating harsh waters and weather conditions. The kills were where the film fell short. They were few, far spaced, and unremarkable. Perhaps the most disappointing was the portrayal of Dracula. Count Dracula’s characteristics, powers, abilities, and weaknesses are not addressed here. In many narrations he is often described as handsome and charismatic when he is well fed, with a veneer of aristocratic charm. Unfortunately, here, the film makers chose to portray him as just a mindless blood sucking beast with superhuman powers and ability to fly. Such a one-dimensional representation of an iconic character only steals the spotlight from its considerably more profound potential.
The Last Voyage of Demeter is a missed opportunity for greatness. It has a respectable cast, terrific camera work, great scenery and design, but movie falls short when it comes to the horror components. Dracula’s design is half-obscured by darkness, and he comes in rapid bursts without making an impression. I didn’t see any fangs! The finale was again another clumsy attempt to leave an opening for the beginnings of a franchise, which is highly doubtful.