Dracula has emerged from the grave, choosing a more intimate story this time. Last Voyage comes directly from Bram Stoker’s novel, choosing to specify on one chapter. The plot follows a group of sailors coming from Romania to England. They quickly realize they have a dangerous passenger on board who hides in the shadows. When they realize this malignant creature is intent on taking down the crew, they must fight to survive their journey before arriving in England.
I didn’t have huge expectations for this one. All I wanted was an atmospheric creature feature that brought something new to the table. I’m happy to say Last Voyage accomplishes that. There are some bumps along the way, but I’m glad I stuck around for the journey. Period piece horror films are few and far between these days, so getting to jump back in time and bask in the 1800s was a treat. With this comes a close quarter setting via The Demeter ship. Such an atmosphere provided great opportunities for a sense of helplessness and claustrophobia among the crew. The environment was utilized well, especially during chase sequences. I was impressed with the cast as well. Corey Hawkins, Liam Cunningham, and David Dastmalchian all turn in nice performances that elevate the situation the characters are in.
A surprising aspect I didn’t expect to enjoy was the unpredictability of the character’s deaths. No one is safe in this story, creating an extra sense of dread. Dracula’s design was one of my favorite parts of the film. It was extremely creepy, combining elements of Nosferatu and Kurt Barlow from Salem’s Lot. I enjoyed seeing his raw, creature form because it switches up the standard Count Dracula persona. Maybe we will see this version of Dracula evolve in a future film? Who knows. The film also features narration from the ship’s captain. It relayed the growing sense of unease amongst the crew as the film went on while capturing the captain’s uncertainty of what to do next.
Although Last Voyage was a pleasant surprise, there were a few pieces that could have been tidied up. I believe the film would have been stronger with a shorter runtime. There were certain sections of the plot that felt extended for the purpose of making a feature length film. Since this is only one chapter of the Dracula story, trimming the excess could have been helpful. I also wish certain sequences leaned into tension in the dark more. I did enjoy the close quarter setting, but I didn’t feel like there was much lingering tension. This could have made the film scarier and elevated Dracula’s presence.
The beginning of the film also gives away the ending, which wouldn’t matter for those who’ve read Bram Stoker’s novel. But for someone like me who hasn’t, it spoiled some of the mystery of the story. In another sense, this made the story grimmer because we know what’s coming. A bit mixed depending on how the viewer sees it. The ending is also a point that feels mixed. If there’s no sequel it will be disappointing because there’s a lot that is teased.
Last Voyage is well worth the wait after its troubled production. It doesn’t hit the highs of the horror greats but serves as a nice reinvention of Dracula. Audiences who are on the fence don’t need to worry about it being too scary, but it does feature some gnarly gore. Check this out as it mixes up the recent horror genre with a fresh, atmospheric story. Dracula’s legacy is intact, and I welcome another film should the filmmakers pursue it. I’m glad the famous vampire has risen from the coffin!