“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” – Batman begins.
The following is a series of entries from a critic’s log.
9 Aug, 7:15 pm – While searching for my seat, I am surrounded by groups of people dressed as if it is Halloween. They are not dressed in the cheap outfits found at certain Halloween stores that infest abandoned Toys ‘R’ Us. These are costumes of good and high quality. Leather. Lace. Intricate. Very well-fitting. They are excited for the film. I am encouraged by this sign.
7:16 pm – Halloween is the best.
7:17 pm – My seat eludes me. I am distracted by the costumes, but more distracted by the decor of the theater. It features a gothic Mayan style and a seat configuration long abandoned by modern movie theaters. There is even a balcony. This place is no stranger to films. Another encouraging sign.
7:18 pm – With help, I have found my seat. A fellow critic strikes up a conversation with me as we await the opening curtain. He does not mention the cinematic journey we are about to embark on. Strange. Does he know something I do not?
7:31 pm – The lights dim and the journey begins with…
7:32 pm – Opening narration title cards?! I fear my optimism was premature.
7:34 pm – My fear has proven prescient. After reading the cards, characters in the opening scene immediately proceed to show and tell us what we just read. [long sigh]
7:36 pm – We’ve been told twice that this film is based on Captain Elliot’s log of the final voyage of his ship, the Demeter. I wonder if it matters that I have never read Bram Stoker’s Dracula?
7:36 pm – I’ve seen Dracula, Dead and Loving It. Close enough.
7:45 pm – I’ve now been introduced to Captain Elliot (Liam Cunningham), first mate Wojchek (David Dastmalchian), and prospective crewmate and doctor, Clemens (Corey Hawkins). Clemens really wants to join the crew of the Demeter but is rejected by Wojchek in favor of a one-eyed man. I wonder if Clemens is secretly Renfield? Or Harkins?
7:46 pm – Clemens rescues eight-year-old Toby (Woody Norman) from being crushed by a wooden crate adorned with a fancy and ominous dragon seal on it. The one-eyed man was helping load it aboard the ship, but dropped the rope when he realized he was carrying a slumbering Dracula. I’m all for foreshadowing, but a literal cyclops might be a little too on the nose.
7:47 pm – Speaking of foreshadowing, Captain Elliot sure looks like the same actor who played Captain Smith in Titanic. I am uncertain but chuckling at the possibility. I hope the rest of this movie is entertaining enough that I don’t dwell on this for the rest of the film.
7:50 pm – Crewmember Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) intrigues me. He is a large man but speaks with a soft, confident demeanor. I would like to get to know him once the Demeter leaves port.
7:51 pm – Wojchek has begrudgingly replaced the cyclops with Clemens. Clemens is excited and relieved that he may finally return to his home in England. Wojchek does not trust him and the captain values Wojchek’s instincts. I sense this voyage may include some bumps between them.
7:52 pm – The Demeter has left port. Finally.
9 Aug – I have lost track of all time, as no one aboard seems to know or care how many days have passed. Also, I forgot my watch and must not activate my mobile device, for fear of being removed from this journey. I will no longer guess at the time.
9 Aug – Toby has provided Clemens a quick tour of the Demeter. It is an enormous ship with a crew that seems too small by at least half. The full crew consists of the four men I have previously mentioned, plus four other men. I hope they do not meet any ill weather.
9 Aug – They have met ill weather.
9 Aug – As with all slasher films, the bad omens start out small. The livestock aboard, as well as Toby’s dog, have been killed by an unknown force. Also, Clemens found a woman buried in a pile of dirt in the cargo hold. She is unconscious and in extremely poor health. Since he is a doctor in 1894, of course he is able to diagnosis her specific ailment by listening to her breathing through a wooden pipe. “She needs a blood transfusion!” he confidently barks at Wojchek. Wojcheck says she should be pitched overboard like all stowaways. Captain Elliot sides with Clemens despite women aboard a ship is considered bad luck.
9 Aug – More ill weather.
9 Aug – The woman talks in her sleep, informing Toby her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). Clemens is definitely not Renfield or Harkins. Pity.
9 Aug – One of the crew has been killed. I cannot remember his name. I am not sad though, as he revealed nothing of himself beyond “sailor.” There are three more of him, equally as generic.
9 Aug – Still more ill weather. As expected, the omens have escalated. As the title implied and the discoverers of the derelict said, there were no survivors. It is not a question of if, but in what order, the crew will perish. How will they continue to operate the ship?
9 Aug – I should note that the weather has erratically changed from good to ill to foggy to sunny to night to ill to iller to calm and back again. The weather and passage of time make no sense here, nor do they affect anything. Neither does food, despite the captain making a point that Clemens must share his rations with Anna. Nothing here matters.
9 Aug – Captain Elliot looks so much like Captain Smith. But his face just isn’t quite right. WHO ARE YOU!?
9 Aug – Elliot said he plans to retire. Olgaren just said he has a daughter. They might as well paint targets on their necks for Dracula. I guess I will not know Olgaren better.
9 Aug – Dracula is literally batman. He has wings and can fly. He can also turn invisible. Unless Dracula is stupid, the remaining crew and Anna have no chance. Dracula is not stupid. This voyage is utterly devoid of drama and tension for so many reasons.
9 Aug – The crew is dwindling, which means a last stand is coming. Anna has been awake for awhile and reveals she is Dracula’s travel snack. I have so many questions about Dracula I would like her to answer. How long can he go without drinking blood? Did he know how many crew members and animals would be aboard? Why did Dracula bring so much dirt? If he can pretend to be a human, why doesn’t he snatch a crewmember and pretend to be that crewmember? If Dracula can fly, why doesn’t he just leave the boat and fly to England? Why is all of the Dracula mythology missing from this voyage?
9 Aug – The voyage has ended precisely as expected. None of my questions have been answered. Bernard Hill portrayed Captain Smith. I am left doubly disappointed.
9 Aug – I approach one group of folks in their fantastic outfits to ask their opinions. One chap takes too long before answering that the film was entertaining. Another proposes that a sequel is obviously intended. Yet a third young lady seems to have already forgotten what she witnessed, urging the group to follow her to an alehouse across the street. She and I have like minds.
9 Aug – Rating: I recommend that if one is inclined to take this journey, they request all but one dollar back. Such exquisite costumes are not cheap.