Thursday, August 10, 2023

'Demeter' yarn gives more than anticipated in summer dog days

As advertised, the legend of "Dracula" is born and then some in "The Last Voyage of the Demeter," a good-looking sailor's tale that fares better than many movies set loose in the middle of August rarely ever manage to do. 

No yo-ho-ho's here, though, or bottles of rum, either, as told from just one chapter of the late-19th century, Bram Stoker novel that introduced the "Prince of Darkness" and, eventually, bloodsucking as a spectator sport.

Of course, gobs of the latter get mixed among some legitimate fire and brimstone, too, as the crew of the Demeter, a Russian merchant vessel carrying a strange load, scatters to and fro while looking for -- and running from -- that thing going bump, bump, bump every night after night on their way from Romania to England. Even the many animals on board, including creepy-crawly rodents, might find it hard to escape such foreboding darkness.

Certainly, neither director André Øvredol nor a trio of credited writers leave any room for laughs in their serious-minded thriller, that is, unless we count the early excuse a few land-lubbing Bulgarians give the Demeter captain (a no-nonsense Liam Cunningham) when he asks for their help in loading an ominous cargo of 24 unmarked crates.

Their refusal sounds something like a broken-English version of, "Gee thanks, but we really have to get out of this place before sunset." Yes, most of us will understand their hurry to depart, and ultimately, uh, just get to feed on watching players such as the heroic ship doctor (a solid Corey Hawkins) slowly discover what any vampire fanatic already knows. 

Rated "R" by MPAA: for bloody violence; 1:58; $ $ $ out of $5.

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