The Last Voyage of the Demeter is a new supernatural horror thriller film that begins with an interesting premise, as it is based on the works of Dracula creator Bram Stoker himself. In the original Bram Stoker novel Dracula, there was a chapter titled The Captain’s Log, which contained the haunting story of a ship that had been carrying some unmarked coffins from Transylvania to London. The Last Voyage of the Demeter is essentially the on-screen adaptation of this very novel chapter, but its too-direct nature and overall lack of sharpness make the film a forgettable affair.
Plot Summary: What is the film about?
The basic premise of Bram Stoker’s story The Captain’s Log is first set in text, about a Russian schooner named the Demeter being chartered to carry fifty wooden crates from Romania’s Transylvania to London. But when the ship ultimately arrived at its destination, it was in a destroyed state with nobody on board. The Last Voyage of the Demeter then opens with scenes of the Demeter being found on a shore in England’s Whitby on the 6th of August, 1897. Amidst a great storm, the ship crashes onto the beach, and when examined by the authorities on land, it is found to be completely empty. The man who had first climbed onto the ship to search for any survivors only found a single diary, which belonged to the ship’s captain, Elliot. In a shocking surprise to everyone, the diary warns of a great, mysterious danger that had destroyed the ship and would now harm the people on land as well.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter then takes us back four weeks, when the Demeter was being loaded with private cargo at a port city in Romania. Among many other goods were a number of unmarked wooden crates as well, the contents of which were not known to the ship authorities. As the ship still needed a few more men to be part of the crew, an opening to recruit more hands was created, and a few men signed up. However, a rumor had already started among the new workers that something evil and dangerous was trapped inside one of the boxes, symbolized by a dragon-like emblem on the crate. Despite being initially turned away, a man named Clemens finally gets to be a part of the crew after he bravely saves Captain Elliot’s grandson Toby from danger and also after a few of the crew members leave.
As the grand ship sets sail and travels through the seas towards London, the calculations predict that they will be able to reach their destination within the stipulated time and earn a bonus for their work. Despite the spirits onboard being quite high, things slowly start to take a mysterious turn on the Demeter when suddenly, a young stowaway woman is found alive in one of the wooden crates in the ship’s hull.
What is the creature that haunts Demeter?
When the woman, named Anna, is first found in one of the wooden boxes, Clemens is the one to ensure that she is kept safe. Most of the other men onboard immediately consider Anna an evil omen, or at least bad luck and want her to be abandoned at sea. But Clemens is a very different man, because he himself knows what it feels like to be prejudiced again because of his racial identity. Also, unlike most other men around him at the time, Clemens is someone most interested in knowledge and the sciences of the world rather than in wealth or materialistic possessions. It is his intense desire to know and understand more about the world, and his having taken training and education in the field of medicine is also because of this very yearning. However, because of the strange times and the situation, Clemens, being a doctor, is not given any weight or importance at all. When he wants to protect Anna and perform blood transfusions on her, the other men on board seriously question his choice. Captain Elliot allows him to finally help the woman, but the ration to feed her is to come from his own personal allotment.
Eventually, as Anna’s health improves and she starts talking, it is revealed that the monster haunting the Demeter ship is intricately linked with what had happened to her and why she was locked up alive in the ship’s cargo haul. As the particular story stems from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it is perhaps quite obvious that the related monster would have something to do with the legendary vampire, Dracula. As things get more explained in the film, it becomes clear that the unmarked wooden containers coming from Transylvania have a very sinister story behind them. Back in Romania, the rich and influential Dracula family continued to literally feast on the blood and organs of the poor, as is known in Dracula’s own story. Among the poor villagers who were taken advantage of was Anna’s family, and the woman had been raised around stories and fear of what the Draculas would do to them. Finally, as a young woman, Anna had been forcefully taken away from her family home in the village and then boxed up inside one of the containers to be shipped off to England.
As Anna later states, the number of people, i.e., villagers, who could be taken by the vampires in Transylvania had greatly reduced. There was simply nobody else left in Romania who could be attacked by Dracula, and therefore, the monster in human form had to look towards other lands. It was for this reason, in order to get access to more people he could make his victims, that Dracula had hidden himself in one of the cargo crates and was shipping himself to London. However, the creature also needed fresh human blood in order to survive the entire journey on the sea, which would last for weeks, and it was for this that he had taken Anna away and brought her on board. Anna was supposed to be Dracula’s fresh source of blood all the time, and the monster had seemingly drunk her blood for a few nights as well.
However, when Anna was found by Clemens and then treated back to health, there was no more food for Dracula, and he, therefore, started to come out of his box. After initially killing the dog and the other animals that were kept as meat for the crew, Dracula starts to attack the human crew members, killing them one after another and drinking their blood to keep himself healthy. The monster is also shown to be extremely intelligent, for it can not only mock and mimic the crew members but is also sensible enough to ration its kills. Dracula does not kill more than one man on either of the nights since he knows that he will need more sources of blood and meat for the rest of the nights.
How do the crew on Demeter try to fight back?
The crew aboard Demeter initially has a tough time believing any of the claims that Anna or the others make. Perhaps the most amount of time with regards to the crew members is spent coming to the conclusion that there is a monster that physically comes out every night to hunt them down. Towards the beginning of the film itself, Captain Elliot makes it known that he will be retiring at the end of this particular voyage, and he intends to hand over the responsibility of the Demeter to the first mate, Wojchek. The love and emotions that Wojchek has for the inanimate ship are also well presented, and it is mostly because of this protective feeling that Wojchek initially tries to dismiss all claims of a monster. Eventually, though, when the crew members start to die and even disappear with each passing night, the other members take the matter seriously. The darkest moment in The Last Voyage of the Demeter definitely comes when little Toby is also not spared and is killed by Dracula because of his blood. This leaves the captain and the others distraught but also without any idea how to fight back.
One of the crew members, Olgaren, is kept alive after he has been bitten by Dracula, and this leads to the possibility of more trouble since the man is possessed by the spirit of the vampire at night. After Toby is attacked and killed, his body is also possessed by the vampire, and the boy tries to attack his shocked and grieving grandfather, only for the rising sun to stop him in his tracks and burn him out of existence. It is most likely that Anna would have turned into a similar monster had she not been found in time and saved from the ordeal by Clemens performing the blood transfusion. The monstrous Dracula also shows his other powers with time, as it is shockingly revealed that he can fly as well, launching attacks on the cautious crew members from the sky. A few of the crew members hold the belief that their religious faith would be enough to save them from the attacks of the vampire. The extremely religious cook of the ship is the first to test this, but it actually does not work out. Similarly, in the end, Captain Elliot also tries to protect himself and his ship by holding out a crucifix against Dracula, but this is of no use at all. The monster rips through Elliot’s body, proving that religious symbols or holy objects have no effect on him.
Eventually, the remaining crew members decide that the only way to save themselves from the attacks of the monster would be to abandon the ship and destroy it with Dracula onboard. This plan of theirs is also supported by the fact that the ship is now quite close to the coast of England, and therefore, the crew members can think of rowing the rest of the distance on smaller boats. However, this plan does not work out, as Wojchek gets killed by Dracula before he can set fire to the ship. Captain Elliot has also been killed by this time, and only Clemens and Anna are left to try their luck. Dracula gets hold of Clemens, too, but Anna is able to save the man in time before the two jump into the sea and force the Demeter ship towards a crash. In the end, it is revealed that Anna was already too affected by the vampire’s bites to be saved or helped, and the woman instead sacrifices herself by getting burned by the rising sun. Although the authorities on the English coast find nobody on the destroyed Demeter and believe all crew members to have died, Clemens actually survives the ordeal, and he also reaches land after some time.
What does Clemens find in London?
During The Last Voyage of the Demeter‘s ending, Clemens successfully reaches London, where, in a vengeful mood, he swears to find Dracula and kill the monster. Although Dracula had last been left behind on the crashing Demeter, Clemens knows that the monster must have survived. The man traces down the address, which had been the intended destination of the unmarked crates, knowing well that this would be the place where Dracula rests during the day before coming out to hunt at night. Clemens tracks down the location of a place called Carfax Abbey and intends to visit the monster soon.
However, as the man sits and plans his vengeance in a pub in London, he suddenly hears loud taps on the floor and sees a suited man tapping his cane loudly. This cane had earlier been seen inside the empty crate aboard the Demeter, meaning that the object belonged to Dracula himself. Surely enough, as Clemens looks up at the face of the man, he sees Dracula hidden in plain sight, wearing a suit and hat and carrying his cane. Clemens immediately gives the man a chase, but Dracula disappears in the street outside. As Clemens promises to hunt down the creature and stop him before too many people have to die, The Last Voyage of the Demeter ends with a gimmicky promise of a possible sequel that would present Clemens’ chase against Dracula in London.