When the novel Dracula was first published back in 1897, it is hard to imagine author Bram Stoker could have known the lasting effect his story would have on the world for generations to come. The tale of a creature that stalks its prey at night, feeding on the blood of humans is terrifying, mysterious, and inviting all at the same time. Numerous versions of the story have been told time and time again on various media platforms. Whether in a film (Bram Stoker's Dracula), on a television show (The Vampire Diaries/The Originals), or in books (True Blood), Dracula or some other vampire tend to draw in audiences in such a way that is intriguing. The newest film, The Last Voyage of the Demeter, expands on Dracula's story, making a movie about only one chapter - and that chapter was based on the ship's captain's logs - of the 418-page book.
July 6 - The crew of the Demeter finished taking on cargo in Romania and set sail for London. In the cargo hold, crates stacked upon crates bound for an unknown owner in England. After a few days, one of the crates fell and broke open revealing mounds upon mounds of dirt. Upon closer inspection, the crate contained a young woman, almost dead with some type of blood infection. With a doctor aboard, he begins transfusions, and over time she seems to be healing.
Two weeks into the voyage one of the crew goes missing and the animals, including the beloved dog, Huckleberry, are slaughtered. A few days later, another mate is missing and the young woman speaks of "the beast" that haunts the nighttime. More disappearances and yet a "sighting"...the is a creature on board, using the crew to feed. A few days left before they reach London and the few crew members left to fear the worst. When the beast attacks he takes down almost everyone.
August 4 - After four weeks at sea, the Demeter crashes against the shore of England, all on board are dead and the lone survivor, the doctor, drifts aimlessly floating on some debris until he reaches land.
Staying true to the mysticism and the horror of the novel, director André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe) offers the audience a slow burn that is perhaps a little too slow. He uses the quiet aboard the ship and the darkness below deck to build tension but never quite makes it leading up to what is supposed to be jump scares and gore as Dracula tears into his prey.
The cast, while not the most well-known actors in movies today, do an excellent job. Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) as Clemens, the doctor, balances compassion and spirit with a slight bit of fear and a pragmatic approach to something "otherworldly". Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale) portrays Anna, the young woman who is discovered in a crate full of dirt, matches Hawkins in mental and emotional strength but not in sympathy. David Dastmalchian (The Suicide Squad) is the first mate, Wojchek, Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) is Captain Eliot and Woody Norman (C'mon C'mon) is his son, Toby.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter is like two hours of foreplay without the satisfying climax at the end. The cast is great, the cinematography is very good and there were a few suspenseful/bloody moments but the tension never builds enough to allow for the relaxing release between kills and the movie is simply too long making it extremely slow.
As a concept it is a great idea that could lead to several other chapters to be adapted for film but, just as this was the Last Voyage of the Dementor, so should it be the last individual chapter to be modified for the big screen.