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Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter Movie Review

30 Oct 2023
Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter Movie Review

Earlier this year, I was watching the latest Insidious film (check out my review blog) and a trailer grabbed me, more than any other trailer has in recent memory. The trailer for André Øvredal’s (Autopsy of Jane Doe, Mortal and Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark) latest horror film, ‘Dracula: The Voyage of The Demeter’. The film looked nothing like any other Dracula film I have seen to date. The film follows the crew of The Demeter as they transport some unknown cargo from Transylvania to London, but little do they know a dark force is aboard the ship. The film is based on one chapter of Bram Stoker’s classic source material, but an important chapter. The isolated setting of the Demeter mixed with André Øvredal’s incredible direction, utilising a small budget, to create one of the more memorable films of 2023 thus far. I had no idea this film was going to be as good as it ended up being.

The real strengths of the film as mentioned are the setting and André Øvredal’s use of this setting. Isolated at sea, with a creature that operates at night-time, is the makings of a truly terrifying film. The crew never venture off the vessel once they’re there, which helps create tension amongst the crew, whilst also creating dread of their dire situation. By the time the third act of the film rolls around, the audience are all on the edge of their seats, waiting to see how the finale culminates. Øvredal does a great job of building up the reveal of Dracula himself. Although we know he is on board from the title of the film and the marketing, we are unsure what he looks like and when he is going to strike. Keeping the creature hidden is what makes the film work as well as it does. If we saw Dracula in board daylight or in the forefront of the film, for one it wouldn’t make sense as Vampires can’t be in the sun, but it would also alleviate any goodwill and tension the film had built up. This restraint works in the audience’s favour, as we get to experience the events of the film with the characters.

The characters are also all very well realised here. If you’re familiar with the book and the story, you are of course familiar with the fate of these characters, however, the film does a super job at ensuring none of them are short changed, and each character is given their fair share of screentime. The real standouts here for me were Corey Hawkins as Clemens, who is looking to move London for a fresh start, Aisln Franciosi as Anna, who is also escaping a dire situation and has found herself in an even worse one, Liam Cunningham as Captain Eliot, the captain of the ship whom is looking to hand over the reins to his first mate, after this voyage and retire the countryside, and David Dastmalchian as Wojchek the first mate of the Demeter, who is taking over after this voyage. All of these small character moments are given room to breathe, so that the audience can really feel the stakes and can really care for these characters. It’s a real strength of the film and will be a reason to revisit the film after you’ve seen it.

The production design here is also fantastic. The film had a reported budget of around $45 million, which sounds like a lot, but for this type of film, it really isn’t. Production designer Edward Thomas (Escape Room, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and Monster Hunter) utilises the budget superbly, making the Demeter feel like it’s a character in the film. The look of the ship makes it look real, and when it's at sea, it's seamless and looks stunning. It looks lived in, which is a testament to the way Thomas dresses the set. The visual effects are also stunning, I was surprised that the budget was less than $50 million, considering the recent Pirates of the Caribbean film, Dead Men Tell No Tales cost a reported $230 million, and if I am being honest, the scenes at sea here look far better than they did in that film. The effects on Dracula are also stunning, using a combination of motion capture, make-up and CGI effects. He is truly terrifying and the stuff of nightmares, which is what he should be. It’s a fantastic looking film that utilises its budget superbly.

‘Dracula: Voyage of The Demeter’ was one of the biggest surprises so far of 2023 for me. I had no idea it was coming out and after that trailer, I was hooked! It’s a fantastic looking film that is superbly crafted by director André Øvredal. If you’re a Dracula fan, this is a must watch and if you’re remotely intrigued after watching the trailer, do yourself a favour and check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

Pick up your copy of Dracula: The Voyage of The Demeter’ today from Sanity on DVD or Blu-Ray, you won’t want to miss this one and for everything Dracula, shop Sanity’s wide range of titles and pop culture items.

Long live physical media!

Buy Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter on DVD or Blu-ray here

Christopher Pattison wrote this blog post for Sanity. See more from Chris here

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