Soldiers in London discover a large ship that has crashed onto the shore. Upon investigation, the ship seems to be known as The Demeter, and a journal that belonged to the ship’s captain is recovered. Within a few pages of the journal, the soldiers discover warnings about something horrifying and deadly.
The film then goes back in time by four weeks to when The Demeter was docked and loading various containers. Extra hands are required in the crew, and the search is on for men in the area who may be seeking some work. After multiple enquiries, the crew meets Clemons (Corey Hawkins), who is experienced in medicine and astronomy. At first, they suspect Clemons is just seeking a free ride and pass on hiring him. Shortly after, an accident at the docks occurs while the crew loads various crates and large loads. Clemons does something heroic which catches the eye of Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham), and he is invited to join The Demeter and its crew. At the same time, a large wooden box is put on the ship, and some of the crew and the locals claim that the various symbols and markings on the box are evil. As The Demeter begins its journey, strange and unexplainable events begin to take place, putting the entire crew on high alert. Fear grows as they realise that whatever lurks around the ship must be stopped before they reach London.
For those unaware, Dracula: Voyage of The Demeter is based on a single chapter from Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name. The film is best described as a horror with minor thriller moments. Visually, this film carries a nice touch of realism, particularly The Demeter itself. Costumes, sets, and the first act, where we see the ship docking and preparing to take to the sea, are also good. Despite heavy CGI, Dracula carries a menacing and creepy presence, which is pleasing. The sound effects, such as the ship’s noises that echo throughout the entire vessel, are also good.
However, as a monster film, there are many issues here that hinder the film considerably. Firstly, the film could be faster, more interesting and exciting. The storyline itself is predictable, cliché and highly familiar. Following a repetitive path, viewers quickly catch on to the A to B type progress, leaving them desiring more to the story. In the end, I found myself waiting for what I knew was to come. Some kills here are fun for those who enjoy horror, but they’re done quickly and in extremely dark scenes. Jump scares are attempted through a loud and overbearing audio mix, which does not strongly impact viewers.
Overall, as a fan of Dracula and all things related to classic monster movies, I’m proud to say how much I enjoyed the visuals of this film. This included the ship- The Demeter- the sets, locations, and the large, winged creature himself, Dracula. However, everything in the plot is familiar. The pacing and story are told through a repetitive A to B scene-by-scene process that is exhausting, dull and uninteresting. Most of the film is highly predictable, with only a tiny touch of risk involved. It’s a great concept, and some audiences will appreciate it. Still, I wished the experience was far greater than this familiar story that ultimately lacked excitement.
Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter (2023) is Now Available in Australian Cinemas.