Dracula, the titular vampire from Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, ranks among the most prolific fictional characters in all of film. He has well over five hundred appearances to his name across an astounding variety of genres on both the big and small screens, and that’s only counting portrayals of the Count himself. If we want to start looking at characters clearly inspired by Dracula (Nosferatu’s Count Orlok, Interview with the Vampire’s Armand, The Fearless Vampire Killers’ Count von Krolock, Sesame Street’s Count von Count, Count Chocula, etc.) then the list grows exponentially. But for all of his popularity as a character, the novel that introduced him to the world remains much more sparingly adapted. Perhaps that’s for good reason, as the book is long, intricate, and features relatively little of the infamous Count. Even the closest adaptations, like 1977’s Count Dracula and 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, do a fair bit of rearranging, condensing, and refocusing the narrative around the titular vampire. Still, the fact that Dracula the character so far outstrips Dracula the novel means that there is still much that can be done with the source material.
Enter The Last Voyage of the Demeter, a newly released adaptation that is still in theaters, despite getting savaged (this viewer would say somewhat unfairly) by reviewers. Directed by André Øvredal of Trollhunter and The Autopsy of Jane Doe fame, it serves as both an expansion on a tiny excerpt of the novel as well as a microcosm for Stoker’s original as a whole. It’s a perfectly serviceable B-movie, somewhat elevated by performances that are better than the genre typically gets, but central to my enjoyment is the fact that the film truly seems to love its source material and works to engage with its more troubling aspects in a way that is rare for any Dracula adaptation.