“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” Demonstrates You Can Make a Boring Dracula-on-a-Boat Movie

A new film based on a little-known chapter of the Dracula saga proves to be  monstrously boring. André Øvredal’s moribund nautical vampire tale The Last Voyage of the Demeter (D+) rarely sets sail into either creative or scary waters as the undead bloodsucker lurks and lunges in equal doses from the cargo hold of a nondescript merchant vessel traveling from Romania to England. The film’s mundane production values, self-conscious narration, cheap-looking creature effects and general lack of specificity about the shipboard whereabouts of this shape-shifting Lil’ Nos(feratu) X mark another low point in Universal’s “revisals” of classic monster pics. The mystery of why Vladdie can’t simply dispatch of the puny crew of imbeciles makes the dramatic dance even more of a transoceanic trance. Only Corey Hawkins as the protagonist, a shipboard MD caring for an unwitting stowaway (Aisling Franciosi) in need of transfusions, demonstrates any discernible pulse in the acting department. There are traces of race politics here, but the characters are too uninteresting to properly embody their arcs. Any teased promise of allegory is more bark than bite. The missed opportunities are countless. Typically pacing in a supernatural thriller is slow for a while to stoke the tension, but this adventure just gets more glacial: a captain’s slog to be sure! Only the film’s ability to elicit unintentional laughs in the final reel provides much of a jump scare surprise.

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