Dracula Boat Movie Falls Flat on its Vampiric Face


While watching The Last Voyage of the Demeter, I couldn’t quite sink my teeth into the film. With visually appealing cinematography, incredible acting, an impressive monster design, and a nearly two-hour runtime… there was still something missing. 

I admit, I knew nothing about this story. Dracula isn’t a monster or horror franchise I’ve necessarily kept tabs on. I know the basics, thoroughly enjoyed Hotel Transylvania, and have seen his clever cameo in Buffy the Vampire Slayer but there are some classic Dracula movies that I haven’t watched that would piss many horror fans off. So, as a non-fan, where do I stand with this adaptation?

When the film starts with the cold open of an abandoned shipwreck in the dreary rain of England, I buckled in for the ride. With no known survivors on the ship washed ashore and only the captain’s log retelling of a voyage gone awry, I was all in. I had no clue where the story would start or end, which characters would be introduced, and how Dracula would attack, killing those aboard one-by-one. Allow me to explain how my excitement slowly diminished. 

The set-up felt drawn out. Sequences of events that could have taken ten minutes maximum played out for double the time and ultimately didn’t aid the movie in any way. Loading the cargo and boarding the Demeter felt like an unnecessary prologue that ended up chewing into parts of the movie you wished were more fleshed out – namely, character set-up and development. 

Then, we board the Demeter and get the itch to see where this plot will take us. The cargo box he was loaded in has been busted open… where is he? The tension grows thicker as we understand that carnage is about to unfold. Then, what we get is Dracula attacking the crew members night-after-night with a captain who doesn’t change his approach to the routine knowing that there is something killing their crew off one-by-one. 

Like, I’m sorry? 

But if people kept dying during their solo night-watch shifts, I don’t think that I would keep putting my crew in the same position with no processes in place to keep them safe. This approach felt very much like a shooting fish in a barrel situation… lazy and looooong. Several crew members die or are affected by this oversight and with no more than two brain cells to rub together amongst the crew, it fills up so much of the film that the director, André Øvredal, must have kept it in solely to increase the run-time. I know he didn’t keep it in because we are supposed to be upset about these deaths in any way, because another huge oversight is that this movie felt cold and lacking emotion – probably due to the lack of character set-up and development.

While the movie is technically good with its shot setups, score, and acting, it is so predictable that I was genuinely never surprised. Now… How are you going to have a horror movie with no surprises? The formulaic approach to the decently cool Dracula-on-a-boat concept is honestly offensive at times. The only scene worth a damn is when Toby is being targeted by Dracula – it had the variables necessary to be a decent chase scene intermixed with a brain-dead zombie crew member and the child-dying empathy the audience needed. Maybe the only character we care about at this point (?) and it’s a free pass because he’s a child. 

When people died, it wasn’t upsetting, it was par for the course, repetitious, and took too damn long in the story-telling. I think you can surmise at this point that what this movie lacked was character development despite having an egregious run-time. To quote Paul Hibbard, “If they would have mercifully shaved about 30 minutes off, then used the first 30 minutes of this introducing these characters, then spent the final 60 minutes in a ONE EVENING attack and fight for survival, preferably in real-time, this could have been cool. But it’s not, and just like what Dracula does to his victims, you could say this movie…blows (couldn’t stomach another “sucks” pun, sorry).”

If you choose one André Øvredal film to watch, make it The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), an actual inventive, contained horror movie with twists and turns galore. I went into The Last Voyage of the Demeter with hopes that this would be a worthwhile summer horror flick but was left feeling like a piece of the puzzle was missing. I know some people will enjoy this movie so I can’t say I don’t recommend it but, sadly, this wasn’t for me and now I’m left wondering which Dracula movie I would actually enjoy.