Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter – Movie Review

Sucks to be them

What’s it about?

Based on a single chapter from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we follow the crew of the merchant ship Demeter as they are tasked with transporting a few crates of dirt from Transylvania to London, what could go wrong?

What’d we think?

I’m a simple man – I like my Draculas to be sexy and seductive like Gary Oldman in the second half of the Coppola movie, not freaky and terrifying like Gary Oldman in the first half of the Coppola movie. With the events of the voyage a foregone conclusion from the outset, it would have been easy to simply bash out your standard “pick off the summer camp kids one by one” kinda narrative, but we instead get a surprisingly tasteful and measured cross between Alien and Master and Commander. Despite being firmly in freaky Dracula territory, the movie takes itself seriously and is all the better for it. Just like the crew of the ship, the cast is small but professional – Corey Hawkins (who I was shocked to learn wasn’t British) takes the lead as the ship’s new doctor and audience surrogate, while a who’s who of character actors (shoutout to Australia’s Nikolai Nikolaeff) filling out the remaining crew, with special mention going to Liam Cunningham for giving 110% as the ship’s captain, and David Dastmalchian’s agent for booking him every second movie that’s been released this year.

I’m a sucker for movies on old-timey ships, and the Demeter itself is a fantastic practical location that elevates the movie well beyond what its presumably modest budget could achieve with greenscreens and CGI. In fact, it wasn’t until I started writing this review that I stopped to consider the fact that the interior scenes were sets, not actually filmed on the ship. I don’t know either way, but I’d say that’s a pretty good measure of quality. It’s a good movie, but not without it’s flaws – The titular Dracula starts out as the best kind of freaky Dracula – glimpses here and there of an impossibly tall and impossibly thin ghoul (apologies to Javier Botet, but the guy knows his lane), but the movie can’t commit to Show Don’t Tell for the entire runtime, and the more we see of the Dracula the less impact it has. Nudging the tonal crossfade closer to Impending Dread instead of Predictable Jumpscare would have been a huge improvement, but the movie’s biggest weakness is the music. I don’t personally subscribe to the commonly-held belief that a good score is one that you don’t notice, but I understand the sentiment, and it definitely applies here. Editor’s note: The original composer dropped out of the film two months before the film’s release, so fair enough.

Dracula On A Boat might not be anything new for audiences, but the movie absolutely nails the feeling that the crew of the ship have no concept of what a Dracula is, and that terror of the unknown is delivered in a slick little package that’s definitely worth your time if you’re into that kind of thing.

Really Good
It's got a cool boat, a great cast, and it's not winking at the audience - Demeter is the most restrained and tasteful version of Dracula On A Boat that you could ask for.
A raconteur by nature and motormouth by trade, the only thing Pete loves more than watching movies is a good debate about movies. He'll argue with anyone about anything, and enjoy it more than is socially acceptable.
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