The Last Voyage of the Demeter Book vs Movie Review

written by Laura J.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter directed by André Øvredal (2023)

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

The Last Voyage of the Demeter is based off of a chapter from the book Dracula, when Dracula is transporting his soil and himself to England and the crew is slowly picked off as the journey goes on.

Book review

 I did read Dracula in 2019 so I am familiar with the book as a whole but prior to watching this movie I went back and read again the chapter the movie is based on. Reading that section (which isn’t too long by the way, it probably took me about 15 minutes to read it) reminded me of what an amazing book this is! So atmospheric, such great imagery, and so creepy and eerie! It definitely makes me want to start from the beginning and read it all over again (which I probably will be doing! So you can expect an official Dracula book vs movie video in the coming months!)

Movie review

I went into this expecting a middle of the road vampire movie and I would say I got what I expected. The movie definitely has some suspenseful, creepy, tense scenes and the performances aren’t bad. But in the end, it isn’t anything too special. The very ending also seemed so forced-which I will get into in the spoiler’s section. The movie also begins with text on screen, explaining that this is the story of the Demeter, a ship that was found crashed on shore with no crew and this is their story, then says it comes from a chapter of Dracula. It may seem like a minor complaint, but we didn’t need that info at the start.

From here on out I will be getting into the details of the plot which means there will be spoilers!

Added characters

Since this is based on a “short story” essentially, the movie embellishes a lot from the original text. We also get a number of additional characters. The movie has the main character, Clemons, who is a doctor who gets hired for the voyage, then we have Toby who is the captain’s son who also isn’t in the book, we also have Anna, a woman Dracula brought with him who is later found who also isn’t in the book. We also have the backstory of the captain telling his first mate that this will be his last voyage and after this, the first mate will be the new captain of the Demeter.

Clemons

Clemons is played by Corey Hawkins and he does the most with what he has, but there are a couple monologues he has that are kind of cheesy. He is also the type that’s like, “I don’t believe in the supernatural, I belief in science” which is a trope that gets pretty old. He also says how he wants to know why the world is the way it is, like why is there bad in the world and what’s the point of it all. Then later he says that he was one of the first black men to graduate from Cambridge medical school, but because he was black no one would hire him. The racism he has faced doesn’t make sense, hence his desire to know the reason for the world and why people are the way they are. He feels the same way with Dracula, he feels he has to find it so he can try and make sense of it. Hearing his backstory did help flesh out his character, but I think the dialogue at times just wasn’t very well written so it came off cheesy at moments. Especially in the end when he is sketching Anne and saying how he has seen evil, but that he has also seen the good in the world. Like this is a good message, I just don’t think it was well executed.  

Side note-Hawkins British accent was so authentic I was like, oh wow, he must be British and had just been using an American accent in his other movies! But nope, he is from the US after all.

Toby

Toby is the 8 year old grandson of the captain and I liked his character. He actually was in one of the best scenes which is when he is in the bottom of the ship, and then sees the guy who had been attacked before and now the guy has become a vampire himself and is after Toby. They have a suspenseful chase, and then Toby locks himself in the captain’s quarters but the vampire guy then just tries banging the door down. Then, we see that Dracula is in the room with him and ultimately ends up killing him. This whole section was really well done and was so suspenseful and creepy!

When they are later going to throw Toby’s body overboard, the grandfather thinks he is still alive and opens the wrapping only to have Toby try and grab him before then bursting into flames because the sun is out. The part was pretty shocking and again, very effective. By the way, the guy who had been going after Toby also ends up being burned from the sun.

Anna

After some rough seas, one of the boxes of first breaks open and Clemons finds Anna who is barely alive. He does multiple blood transfusions on her to keep her alive and she eventually recovers. The blood transfusion made me think o the book Dracula because there is a character who gets blood from like four different guys and there is not talk whatsoever of blood type. Like are all of these people just coincidently the same type, or happen to be universal donors or something?? And here in the movie they don’t bother getting into that either.

Anyway, she is from Transylvania and has grown up hearing about Dracula. She ends up dying in the end, because she turns into a vampire herself, but sacrifices herself to the sunshine to die. I liked her character well enough and thought she had some good moments.

Dracula

The movie makes Dracula look like Nosferatu, and this is very effective when we don’t see him full on. Like when he is creeping in the shadows and stuff I liked it, but when we see him face first I just wasn’t loving his look.

In the book we don’t have Anna, so he was just planning on using the crew. Whereas in the movie it seems like he started going after the crew because they had rescued Anna.

The animals are the first to go, in the book too there was a dog that disappeared. But in the movie the animals have these huge gashes and some of them are trying to blame like rabies or something. Like, come on, clearly something did this to them, are you kidding me??

In the movie, they come up with a plan to crash the boat and kill Dracula, but then they see he can fly which makes their plan fail. They are able to pin him down though and Anna nad Clemons jump overboard. But after the crash, Dracula is about to unpin himself and escape.

In the book, the onlookers see this giant dog run off of the boat, and this turns out to be Dracula because he can turn into a wolf/dog.

In the movie it bugged me though that the cross didn’t stop Dracula. Like come one, this isn’t some random vampire movie where you can make up your own lore-this is Dracula! Yet here the cross does nothing against the vampires.

The crew in the book

In the book the crew disappears one by one, and the first mate ends up jumping overboard. The captain, not wanting to abandon his ship, ties a crucifix around his hands and ties himself to the steer. He knows he will die but hopes that the cross will prevent Dracula from being what kills him and this is the case because the British people find his body still tied to the wheel so here the cross did save him.

The ending

The movie ends with Clemons in London, saying how he is going to find Dracula and kill him. He is in a pub and hears and sees Dracula in the corner and then rush past him. This whole part was just kind of cheesy. Apparently, they want to make a sequel thought with Clemons being a Van Helsing kind of guy. I’m all for a follow up movie, but I just didn’t like how the ending was handled. Just too obvious and, like with the text at the beginning, basically spoon feeding the audience.

Book vs movie

Hard to do a book vs movie, because do I just compare the one chapter with the movie? Or am I taking the story as a whole into account?? Having read the book, it is hard to think solely on the one chapter. I think in some ways the movie did a good job elaborating on this short section. I love that they made the movie because it is such a great section of the book.