I didn't get a chance to see THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER on the big screen--it didn't stick around too long in the theaters in my area. I did finally catch up to it this week.
LAST VOYAGE has the ultimate horror high concept--it's based on the chapter in Bram Stoker's novel of DRACULA that deals with how the Count, along with his numerous boxes of native soil, was transported to England from Transylvania on the merchant ship DEMETER.
The movie injects some modern elements into the chapter, such as a black man (Corey Hawkins) who studied medicine at Cambridge being part of the crew, the ship captain's 9 year old grandson, the boy's dog, and a young woman discovered inside one of Dracula's boxes of earth.
One of the creepiest things about the chapter in DRACULA dealing with the DEMETER is that the crew has absolutely no idea why they are being killed off by a mysterious force. In LAST VOYAGE, the young woman serves as a sort of "cheat sheet" to the crew in their travails, but she doesn't really wind up helping them all that much. A major plot point is that Hawkins' character considers himself a rational man of science, who has to face a totally irrational threat (despite all his learning, he doesn't contribute much to the situation either).
LAST VOYAGE basically winds up being another multiple characters being stalked and killed in a closed-off locale scenario. Director Andre Ovredal provides a few effective moments, but there's a lot of talk in between the many sequences where the characters (and the camera) prowl about the ship, and the jump-scare moments are easy to anticipate. The design of the DEMETER is well done, although I must say the vessel is far larger than the ship I pictured when reading Stoker's novel.
The Dracula presented here is a foul, unearthly being--the best way I can describe him is that he's a supercharged version of Nosferatu. Dracula's appearances are kept to a minimum, and they have an impact, but I still felt the creature was too CGI-ish for my tastes.
THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER should get some credit for putting a twist on a famed Gothic tale that has been adapted innumerable times. The ship's crew, however, are not interesting enough to sustain a nearly two-hour running time. The film's premise would have worked much better as a 70-minute black & white B movie made decades ago.