Thursday, August 10, 2023

A gloomy helping of Dracula and gore


Sailors aren't the only victims in The Last Voyage of the Demeter, a movie based on a single chapter of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Hope dies, as well. I'm talking about the hope for a movie that might have become a worthy addition to cinema's voluminous vampire library. What we get instead is a heaping helping of portentous drama. Noisy and boring, Last Voyage deprives Dracula of any twisted charm, turning him into a ravenous beast with exceptionally bad teeth. The trailer offers a glimpse of what Dracula looks like when in full vampiric bloom. Early on, we learn that Dracula has organized a voyage in which he will be shipped from Transylvania to London in a crate big enough to hold a refrigerator. Director Andre Ovredal makes it clear from the start that he's after a tale that reeks of foreboding. Most of the story takes place on the Demeter, where we meet the ship's doctor (Corey Hawkins), the ship's captain (Liam Cunningham), and the dour first mate (David Dastmalchian). As crew members succumb to Dracula, the filmmakers display a fair measure of fleshy gore. Toby (Woody Norman), the captain's grandson, is also on board. Although the movie is short on suspense, we wonder how far the filmmakers will go. Will young Toby wind up as vampire food? A woman (Aisling Franciosi) is found in one of the 50 crates that have been stowed in the Demeter's hold. She knows how relentless Dracula can be. The filmmakers seem to be striving for symphonic swells of terror as the sailors face a terrible evil. But atmospherics can carry a movie only so far and The Last Voyage of the Demeter sinks under the weight of its unrelieved gloom.

No comments: