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Film Reviews by Lisa Blanck
The Last Voyage Of The Demeter
| Friday, 08.11.2023, 09:38 PM |   (331 views)

Known as the Greek Goddess of fertility, Demeter also gives life after death to those who learn her mysteries. And how appropriate it is for Bram Stoker to place his living dead men and women on a merchant ship with the same moniker, as we watch Director Andre' Overdal's new horror film, The Last Voyage of the Demeter unfold.

According to Stoker's tale, which is only one chapter in the bloodsucking Dracula classic horror novel, the Demeter's crew was paid to transport 24 crates from the shores of Romania, and sail onto Whitby, England.  What they did not know was that within one of those crates slept the vampire, Nosferatu.  He was departing his Romanian ancestral home, desiring to bring death to a new country, since he had already sucked the life out of his current homeland.

Four weeks before the ship is dashed on the rocks of the English seaside, crates filled with Dracula's Transylvanian soil are loaded below Demeter's deck. A temporary crew is hurriedly hired in town to do the heavy lifting.  While hoisting them aboard, one of them is dropped, spilling some of the maggot-filled soil in the process.

Nightfall is coming and as the Romanians who transported the crates to the dockside quickly depart, one is heard to say, with what we know is foreboding, "May you see the end of your journey."  One of the hired hands spies the dragon crest, 'the Devil's serpent', on the exterior of the crates, and hightails it off the ship.  He is replaced by our protagonist, Dr. Clemens (Corey Hawkins), who wishes only to return to his homeland, having been hired sight-unseen by the Romanian court and then spurned for the color of his skin. 

Once they get a whiff of the undead cargo, even the rats desert this ship.  "A doomed crew on a doomed ship", is a vast understatement for what befalls the Captain and crew of the Demeter.  She is truly on her last voyage.  

Within the first 30 minutes, Dr. Clemens has saved the lives of not one but two travelers on the Demeter. Or so we are lead to believe.  Early on, Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) proclaims 'this will be his last voyage'. He wants to turn over the wheel to his second in command, Wojchek (David Dastmalchian).  Since none of those on board are seen among the wreckage of the Demeter, the Captain's words could not have rung any truer.  

Life after death.  Those infected with the bite of Nosferatu can hear and smell the blood singing beneath the skin of the living.  The film does an excellent job of ramping up the tension, starting with the slaughter of the animals in the ship's larder.  Javier Botet's transformation from a sickly, crawling, mewling wingless freak into the full-blown flying demon Dracula is terrifying.  Apparently, based on his IMBD bio, when you need to bring a demonic being to life, Botet's the man for the job.  Reportedly over 6'7" and weighing 123lbs, his frame is ideal for all sorts of mummies, the undead and the stuff of nightmares.  Typecasting, yes, but I'm sure there are worse things in life... or death. 

Toss in the constrictive galleys on the ship, the creaking of the masts in ever-present stormy days and nights and the violent disappearance of the crew, one-by-one, you have all the elements of a grand scale horror film.  The quality of the production and set dressing are excellent.  Children in peril, damsels in distress, even the family dog ... is anything safe on the Demeter? 

Again, the movie stays true to vampire lore, for the most part.  When the stage is set for the big reveal, I was a bit disappointed.  Upon thinking back to various scenes in the film, a few important rules were broken.  But unless you're truly steeped in the blood of vampire lore, you may not notice the errors. 

I'm not sure why this was released during the summer, because it's certainly more of a late-fall Halloween-type project.  But those are not my calls to make. 

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor and Movie Reviewer for In  Her background includes 30+ years of digital editing for WESH2 News and WKMG News.  She also edits on-air promotional spots for Matter Of Fact, the number one nationally syndicated news and information program.  For more than 30 years she has covered the Florida Film Festival and the World Peace Film Festival, with additional experience in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at MTV Networks.  She was previously a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida.

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