The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) – Spoiler Free Review

The Last Voyage of the Demeter’ is the latest Dracula-based film from Universal Pictures. Unlike most adaptations of the legendary and iconic character, this story isn’t a new take on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, but instead crafts a whole new cinematic story based on the seventh chapter in the book, which briefly tells of the ill-fated crew of the Demeter – the ship that unwittingly transported Dracula from Romania to London, making this a unique and refreshing Dracula film.


It was written by Bragi F. Schut and Zak Olkewicz, and directed by Andre Ovredal. It stars Corey Hawkins, Liam Cunningham, Aisling Franciosi, David Dastmalchian, Woody Norman, Chris Walley, Stefan Kapicic, Jon Jon Briones, and Javier Botet as Dracula.

The story follows a young Doctor named Clemens (Corey Hawkins), who seeks to earn a position on the crew of the Demeter so that he can return to London. Initially he’s rejected, but after a crew member spots an ancient symbol on a crate being loaded onto the vessel and quits, a spot opens up. Soon after the ship sets sail, strange things begin to plague the crew: their livestock are savagely murdered; a young stowaway named Anna (Aisling Franciosi) is discovered in the cargo bay and is in immediate need of a blood transfusion; and one by one the crew members begin to disappear. As tensions rise, one thing becomes clear: they’re not alone on the ship, and what’s with them is evil beyond imagination.

The direction, cinematography, and editing are absolutely fantastic here. From beginning to end this looks and feels like a horror movie – and I don’t mean that in a generic way. As I was watching this in the theater, I couldn’t help but marvel at the atmosphere of the film within every frame and with the way it exhibited patient storytelling. While it visually looks modern, there’s just something about the way this film was put together that felt old school.

Additionally, the score from Bear McCreary is also excellent, and really enhanced the film. It complemented the story, and the overall dread-filled atmosphere.

The cast is very strong here all across the board. Corey Hawkins gives a really solid performance as Clemens, a man with intellect who yearns to understand the complexities of the world we live in, and along with him are Aisling Franciosi as Anna, a young woman temporarily saved from her fate due to a blood transfusion, but knowing all too well of the dangers her saviors are in for. David Dastmalchian continues to prove how versatile he can be as an actor, playing it straight and tough as Wojchek, the second in command on the vessel, and honestly, he’s one of the best characters in the movie. Woody Norman is surprisingly excellent as Toby, Captain Elliot’s grandson, who gets some strong emotional weight as the terror progresses. Perhaps the finest performance in the film is Liam Cunningham as Captain Elliot, a character that I liked from the start, who gets a very emotional and tragic arc throughout the film. And finally, there’s Javier Botet as the film’s antagonist, Dracula. This is a different Dracula then we’ve ever seen before, as he is strictly the monster that takes out the Demeter’s crew one by one. I’ve seen some complaints about how this version of Dracula doesn’t have personality, but I’m all for that decision. I love the fact that he is kept as the villain and the threat and that there’s no attempt to get to know him. This decision helps elevate the horror of the story, and keeps the focus on our group of protagonists and the tragedy that looms over them. Personally, I’m sick of the sympathetic villain trope, and so to keep Dracula as the monster, no more and no less, is the right choice.

The only area that I’m really mixed on with this film is the ending. Now, I do like elements of the film’s final scene, especially how they look visually, but the purest in me doesn’t like how it introduces a new element that intrudes on Bram Stoker’s story rather than compliment it. I apologize for being vague here, as I am trying to keep this spoiler-free, but I think anyone who is a fellow fan of the novel will understand where I’m coming from on this.

Overall, this is my personal favorite horror film of 2023 (so far), but I don’t think it will be for everyone. One of the biggest complaints I’ve seen over the last few days is that it’s too slow. Yes, it is a slow burn movie, but I think that is what makes this film work the best. It’s not a cookie-cutter, action packed spectacle; instead, it takes its time building on the characters, story, suspense, and horror – and for that I admire this movie. It reminds me of what storytelling used to be like before technology and social media collectively mind-fucked our attention spans.

I love this movie, and I can only hope that you do too. But if not, fair enough.

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About Seth T. Miller 90 Articles
I am first and foremost a proud father of two daughters who may or may not be possessed by demonic entities/deadites -- time will tell on that one, but I am pretty confident that one of them translated the Necronomicon. I enjoy short walks to my movie collection, reading in goddamn piece and quiet, and watching the same movies and tv series over and over instead of discovering new stuff.