A Bad Omen Awakens on The Demeter

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Alyson Powers

Who thinks Gary Oldman is a boss? After Gary blew me away in Dracula along with all the genius electrifying Francis Ford Coppola’s version, I ran out to buy Bram Stoker’s book, jumped on my bed, opened the pages, and was bored to tears. This has nothing to do with Gary Oldman and everything to do with parts of the Dracula story missed by many. Reading style simplification “devolution” over the years changes our ability to read older text. But the story still frightens no matter if you get the language or not. It only takes a few gothy nouns and horrific verbs and gruesome adjectives to describe how death can hurt before it happens… The rest is up to your imagination.  SPOILERS FOLLOWING

Stoker’s novel uses a journal-entry style that drones on. Not sure if others do what I do, but I chose to flip forward finding romantic bits between Vlad the Impaler and his princess Mina. And a few other scandalous things. For Demeter? That ship has sailed (wahwahwah). The Last Voyage of the Demeter has none of that romance stuff. Nor much depth either, but offers crisp scenes, a feel for the ocean, and an even-pace of thrill. Sort of like JAWS. That’s it! That’s what it reminds me of. JAWS and Evil Dead.

Liam Cunningham as Captain Eliot holds his team together, and the plot, until he no longer can.

The Demeter, a Greek name of the Goddess over harvest, sails for commercial and hired transport of goods. Wait one second. The Goddess over harvest? Maybe you can think on this while you watch. So, this large cargo heads to Carfax Abbey and while being loaded on to the Demeter a heavily scarred-up man hired for the job spooks over an emblem, to the point he runs away. A little cliche. Our captain and a crew of seven, a number known as the devil during a game of Craps on casino ships, leave Romania to embark on a four-weeks tour to England. It begins and ends with chapter 7, one of the chapters I skipped. Written and based in 1897, it seems the devil was alive then too.

Dr. Clemens played by Corey Hawkins might be the hope, but he also was the one to awaken the omen.

André Øvredal and a duo of Norwegian writers make this demon of the night unbearably wicked to look at. (Or rather their animators do.) Nightmares guaranteed. My horror-flick guru friend sitting next to me during this screener mentioned it held back on potential for more suspense and tension. “It lacks some original angles of shots or some creativity,” his might be a better opinion than mine with my limited intel on the matter of thrillers. “They might have focused more on the cinematic… and not have cut build ups short.” Well, I’m glad they were cut short, any longer and I would have passed out. For me, it was dark, wet, and very sad sans tears. Also, and just like the film, we are ready for round 2. 

The cast begs to differ including a fairly new actress Aisling Franciosi (The Fall, Game of Thrones), wanting the audience to see this as more artful than frightening. However, I felt terror for more than a solid hour. All performances deserve praise. It was a single brilliant actor who made the movie for me. #coreyhawkins #DemeterMovie #LastVoyageOfTheDemeter #dracula

OPEN IN THEATERS NOW. See you on land 😈

A woman on board is an omen. And Aisling Franciosi as Anna plays pitch perfect as a pure soul sealed in a sea of doom.
15th Dallas International Film Festival