By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
"The Last Voyage of the Demeter"
from director Andre Ovredal
("Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 2") and screenwriters Bragi F. Schut Jr. ("Inversion") and Zak Olkewicz ("Bullet Train"), could just as easily been titled "Waiting on Dracula." That's because this supernatural, nautical, thriller--which is inspired by the chapter "The Captain's Log" in Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula,"--is a slow boiler that teases viewers with glimpses of the count throughout a chunk of the film. To its credit, the movie's use of darkness and fog help to create an unnerving atmospheric vibe.
This seafaring adventure begins when Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham, TV's "Masters of the Universe: Revelation") decides he has one more voyage left in him before retiring and spending time with his adorable young son Toby (Woody Norman, "C'mon, C'mon" and "Skeleton Tree") and his obedient dog Huckleberry.
Captain Eliot is set to sail the Demeter from Transylvania/Carpathia to London with fifty unmarked wooden crates on board. One of the crates has a dragon logo on it. Could that be a bad sign? Maybe. A few of the guys see it and decide to bolt instead of making the trip.
Captain Eliot's hand-picked crew now includes among others: First mate, Wojchek (the dynamic David Dastmalchian, "Oppenheimer" and "The Boogeyman"), Abrams (Chris Wally, "Lies we Tell"), Joseph, the cook (Jon Jon Briones, TV's "Star Trek: Picard"), and a Cambridge educated doctor named Clemons (a fantastic Corey Hawkins, "The Color Purple" "In the Heights" and "The Piano Lesson"). He comes in very handy down the line.
It's pretty smooth sailing as the guys spend time together and get to know each other. However, things take an odd turn when they discover a stowaway named Anna (Aisling Franciosi, "God's Creatures"). This young woman has been through the wringer and has some sort of infection that requires blood transfusions. It doesn't look like she's going to make it.
That's just the beginning of the crew's worries. They are shocked to wake up and find the animals on board have all been slaughtered. They don't know how it happened. Now, there's no meat to go with their potatoes.
They could stop at a port, but that would throw them off schedule and they don't want to jeopardize those big bonus checks waiting for them if they can make it to London on time.
Crazy stuff begins to happen. Some of the crew starts seeing images of a creature. This mysterious entity, aka, Dracula (Javier Botet, "Creepers" and "Slender Man") has taken hold of the ship and is about to latch on to so much more. Now, the crew must outsmart this monster and prevent it from making a meal out of them.
Fortunately, Anna pulls through and alerts the crew to what exactly they are dealing with.
The big surprise in "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" is there are no surprises. Viewers know how this story pretty much plays out because we learn at the start through the film's narration that the crew is doomed and why.
Still, there is something to be said about this dark, dangerous, and chilling story, especially when we finally get to see the big, bad blood sucking Dracula up close and personal as he sinks his teeth into the sailors. He looks like a mashup of Gollum, Skeletor and a bat.
"The Last Voyage of the Demeter" follows "Renfield," the other Dracula-inspired movie released this year, but "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" is grittier, bloodier, and overall, just has more bite.
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Look At This Trailer For "THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.