The Last Voyage of the Demeter movie poster

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

In theaters August 11, 2023


118 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , ,

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.

In The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023), the crew of the “Demeter” is finalizing cargo for its voyage to England, carrying silver, sand, and many boxes that are emblazoned with a dragon’s seal. The couriers have brought their cargo down from the mountains and are glad to be rid of it, paying First Mate Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) in advance and wishing them a heartfelt but desperate good luck as they refuse to help load. Last to make it aboard is Mr. Clemons (Corey Hawkins) a Cambridge-trained doctor who tries to leverage his knowledge and skill with a needle for passage. As an accident leaves an unexpected opening, he joins the crew alongside the Captain (Liam Cunningham), his young grandson (Woody Norman), Wojchek, Joseph the cook (Jon Jon Briones), and five other crewmen. As they head into the open water of the Mediterranean Sea, they discover a stowaway, Anna (Aisling Franciosi), whom Clemons revives with a blood transfusion. He has saved her life but has awakened something hungrier deep withing the bowels of the ship. With weeks ahead of them and livestock and crew disappearing, the remaining crew must decide if the Demeter’s cargo is worth bringing into port, or if sinking her to the bottom of the sea would save everyone from the horrors onboard.

Taken from Chapter 7 ( of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Archibald Constable and Company (UK), 1897), The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a brief accounting of the derelict schooner, Demeter, that washed up on shore after a sudden and violent storm. Told in the form of a Captain’s Log exiting Varna, Bulgaria to make port in Whitby while en route to Carfax Abbey in Northern England, the captain makes notes of the weather, the state of the ship, and the declining temperament of his crew. The voyage lasts less than a month, with the Demeter running aground and its cargo quickly offboarded to its final destination. To flesh out the story, the characters of Clemens the doctor, Anna the stowaway, and Toby the Captain’s grandson are added. This is good because watching nine men attacked at sea by a supernatural force would translate into the giggle folks think. The addition adds a depth of grounded empathy as there are characters for everyone to connect with.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter reaches deep into its gothic roots, eschewing elegant Euro-trash and generic Romani/Bulgarian accents for rural folklore seafaring superstitions. Drawing on both Stoker’s Dracula for the story and F. W. Murnau’s 1922 expressionist classic Nosferatu for the vampire, Demeter mines a little-cited chapter with terrifying imagery as well and themes of The Other and The Outsider, as both Clemons and Anna are unwelcome on the ship. Clemons is Black and Anna is a woman. Their presence fosters feelings of unease and mistrust as misfortunes begin to stack with fears of disease and death primary among the crew.

Comparisons are likely to be drawn to two recent Netflix series, the 2020 three-part horror series, Dracula starring Claes Bang and Dolly Wells, as well as the 2021 Mike Flanagan seven-part miniseries, Midnight Mass starring Kate Siegel and Zach Gilford. Episode 2 of Dracula is a reimagining of the Demeter voyage, and Midnight Mass’ Father Paul’s (Hamish Linklater) “Angel” is an Orlockian nightmare with wings.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is pretty in that gritty style that says everyone needs a bath and no one should share a comb. With 95% of the film taking place on the Demeter, the ship feels both vast and claustrophobic. There are plenty of places to hide, but nowhere to run. Corey Hawkins grounds what could be a haughty Mr. Clemons into a man who knows he’s not among his peers but still wants to use reason to battle a terrifying unknown. David Dastmalchian as First Mate Wojchek is seasoned and gruff without being completely insufferable, and young Woody Norman as Toby is that sprinkle of innocence and wonder at everything balanced with his own responsibilities as livestock guardian. The only misstep is that of Aisling Franciosi’s Anna who can’t find her footing as either worldly and capable, or helpless and frail. The character isn’t fleshed out particularly well and the inconsistencies with the story fall squarely on her shoulders.

Overall, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is an enjoyable film both in scope and potential spinoffs. Whether setting up for a sequel or a miniseries, Dreamworks and Universal Pictures have given themselves plenty of room to continue a Classic Monsters reboot.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) is Rated R for swears, livestock and pet deaths, throat ripping, the thirst of the undead, disco rice, rough seas, and sudden multiple immolations.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.


  1. Yes, great review. I enjoyed this as well. 3 stars for me. Excellent cast and excellent suspense.

Leave a comment...