‘The Last Voyage of the Demeter’ Director André Øvredal Previews His ‘Alien’ at Sea Horror Movie [Interview]

The trailer for the long-awaited The Last Voyage of the Demeter is here, giving a glimpse of the horror based on “The Captain’s Log” chapter from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Steering the ship is director André Øvredal, who broke out with the adventurous Troll Hunter before creeping audiences out with The Autopsy of Jane Doe and then Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The trailer for his latest, The Last Voyage of Demeter, suggests a tone somewhere in between; an epic-sized adventure packed with claustrophobic scares.

Bloody Disgusting spoke with Øvredal for the trailer’s release about what we can expect to see and the horrors that await. The trailer gives us a peek at the passengers aboard the Demeter, including actors Corey HawkinsAisling Franciosi, and Woody Norman. The presence of all three suggests that we can expect the unexpected here.

Øvredal confirms, “We’ve put a lot of effort into making the movie as unpredictable and as varied as possible in certain aspects. I always wanted to be very close to what the original text was, and I tried to embrace that as much as possible when making the movie. Of course, there are liberties taken because it’s just that’s the way it works. It’s a different medium, but I think we’re still very close to Stoker’s intent, the feeling, and the story. Generally, you’ll recognize many, many solid, clear plot points from the original text.”

The trailer also gives us a peek at Javier Botet’s Dracula, a more monstrous depiction lurking aboard the Demeter. Øvredal previously worked with the actor on Scary Stories, but Botet’s lean frame also makes him perfect for a role initially described as a “tall thin man” by the Demeter crew in the novel.

The director explains Botet’s casting and role here, “As soon as we started talking about it, he was such a clear front-runner, and we wanted somebody who could be something else, something that can behave in a way that you don’t necessarily expect. He, of course, can do all that. Yes, that reference is also true, but I think just his talent as a creature performer and as an actor on screen was the leading choice, and of course, I love him. That was an easy plus and an easy bonus.”

When asked if the more monstrous depiction was part of the allure of this project, Øvredal’s answer explains what we can expect from this iteration of Dracula.

“I thought that was one of the most original aspects to the story,” he tells us. “When it’s so focused on just this journey, making that into an Alien on the ocean kind of tone, and the enemy is just unknown to these characters. They’re just a crew on a cargo ship, taking some boxes to England and some other freight. To see Dracula from their point of view as a monster that’s invading their world and they cannot escape was absolutely one of the biggest appeals of the whole script. I mean, on a very core level.

“But you don’t follow Dracula around as a character, as the sophisticated aristocrat that he actually is. You find him as a feral blood addict who needs the blood; he’s desperate on this journey and needs to start taking down the crew one by one to survive. It’s a survival story in some ways on his part. I find that to be a great aspect of this story. I’m very curious to see how the audiences are feeling about the portrayal of Dracula, which I’m very proud of.”

Also noticeable in the trailer is the use of practical effects. Øvredal explains, “Both producer Brad Fischer and I really love practical effects. After making a movie with Guillermo [del Toro], that also added variety to that love for it. We always try to keep it live on set and keep it with very grounded physical effects in the characters and in the way we approach. There is a lot of special effects makeup involved. It’s all been a very exciting and very intense journey making this movie, that’s for sure.”

The entire premise, a voyage at sea, introduced a whole new set of complications for practical effects. Øvredal explained the intense challenges of bringing his vision to the screen.

The filmmaker recalls, “Filming on the ocean or filming in a tank has its challenges. Especially when you add special effects makeup in the rain with wind machines, huge wind machines, and on a boat that’s rocking and then water splashing from everywhere and just coordinating and making all that work; if there is a gust of wind coming in from the Mediterranean Sea because we were shooting on Malta, all that stuff, suddenly you have to take down the whole operation because the wind is too strong, and it can topple the ship. And in the middle of the pandemic, in COVID. It was crazy.”

While the crew may be confined to a ship, trapping them in place with Dracula, their voyage is long and vast. The director elaborates, “It’s definitely meant to be a horror epic. It’s a big journey across Europe from Varna to the English coast, and it’s a haunted house at sea, like Alien on the ocean in 1897, but with Dracula as the Alien. That’s the feeling we were going for. It is a bigger, broader story for a horror movie.

“In addition to just being scary on a very classical level, I also think it has existential horror based on what you also already observed, that there are other elements on that ship.”

The Last Voyage of the Demeter sets sail for theaters on August 11, 2023.

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