Published on August 10th, 2023 | by Tim Chuma
Dracula: Last Voyage of the Demeter Review (2023)
Summary: Maybe better to watch if you do not know a whole lot about the original Universal movie monsters or Hammer Horror and then go back to watch them later. Solid enough effort.
With the original Dracula almost 100 years old now it was inevitable that Universal was going to try again to reboot its classic monster movies series. While the Tom Cruise movie with the Mummy may not have worked so well, Renfield seems to have gotten a lot of fans and is pitched as a direct sequel to the original Dracula movie.
This is the second movie with Dracula released in the same year and with all the movies the character has starred in over the years it is difficult to make an impact with something new as many of the things you think you know are from Bella Lugosi’s performance still or the Hammer Horror movies of the 1950s to the 1970s.
The basis this story is about five pages of the original novel and it expands what happened on the journey. This reminds me of the recent Lord of the Rings prequels that can’t use the original books and have to use the end notes to build their stories.
Most of the cast seems quite young with only Liam Cunningham as the Captain and Javier Botet as Nosferatu/Dracula being the more experienced actors. Liam Cunningham has starred in Blood the Last Vampire before but is more famous for Game of Thrones.
Javier Botet has had an interesting career already, originally studying art and wanting to produce films it was suggested he would be prefect to wear monster makeup due to being so tall and thin. He has featured in the REC movies, Witching and Bitching, Crimson Peak, IT Chapter 1 and 2, Slender Man and played a Xenomorph in Alien: Covenant. I know people who enjoy following the careers of people who play the monster in horror movies and have been to a convention where people lined up to meet the person who played Jason Vorhees.
The director’s best known works are Troll Hunter, The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I can’t say I really know of any other film directors from Norway especially not horror movies but they do have the Norse tradition of dark folk tales to draw from.
Being set in the one location does mean they can do different things with the story. The few lines from the actual novel as said by the captain as narration tend to drag things down so it is good that they did decide to make an expanded version of the story.
Horror has taken off as a genre to the point where major production companies like Universal and DreamWorks are doing it again. This one is not as unhinged as some of the movies like Evil Dead Rise or Terrifier but it has a lot more than you would usually see in a movie from a major studio.
There does seem to be a lot of practical effects with CGI being used sparingly in some scenes and fog being used to hide it so you can’t see it as well.
Overall the movie seems fairly solid but does lack a certain push to make it stand out amongst a lot of the modern horror movies, it feels old-fashioned at times even apart from the age of the source material despite them updating some of the characters for more modern sensibilities.
I would recommend this one if you haven’t really seen many of the older Universal or Hammer Horror movies and then can watch this one and go back to see the older ones to see how they differ. If you compare it to every other Dracula movie it is never really going to stand out but at least this signals a new beginning for the studio making more movies with the character.
Director: André Øvredal
Screenplay: Bragi F. Schut, Zak Olkewicz
Based on the chapter “the Captain’s Log” of Dracula by Bram Stoker
Starring: Corey Hawkins, Aisling Franciosi, Liam Cunningham, David Dastmalchian, Javier Botet, Jon Briones, Stefan Kapičić, Nikolai Nikolaeff, Woody Norman, Martin Furulund, Chris Walley, Nicolo Pasett
Advisory: Gore, poor puppy, Child endangerment