Horror Heads and the Last Voyage of the Demeter
Horror heads are accustomed to screeching at the screen, “Don’t go in the basement!” In “The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” I found myself inclined toward the reverse exclamation: “Just go below deck and kill him already!”
Based on a chapter in Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula,” this squally scary movie is set on a London-bound merchant ship doomed to a bloody routine. Days are safe, but sundown brings the terrorizing thirst of the vessel’s vampire stowaway, who emerges in darkness to bite a few necks before retiring to his makeshift cargo coffin.
The regularity of Dracula’s circadian timetable begs the question: Why doesn’t the crew just attack around noon? It could have saved the movie’s beneficent hero, Clemens (Corey Hawkins), a boatload of trouble.
The movie begins as Clemens, a British doctor, appeals to Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) to join the Demeter’s company. The only educated man onboard, Clemens nonetheless proves an able deckhand, winning the favor of both the salty first mate, Wojchek (David Dastmalchian), and the captain’s wide-eyed grandson, Toby (Woody Norman).
But “The Last Voyage,” directed by André Ovredal, doesn’t waste time on characterizations. Before long, bad omens and creaky floorboards give way to repetitive, swollen set pieces as Dracula picks off the shipmates one by one. The script does find time for a feeble feminist gesture — the story’s sole woman can cock a rifle — and a monologue about racism. These efforts to update the tale are about as successful as those of the sorry crew, whose fates were written over a century ago.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Rated R for fighting and biting. Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes. In theaters.