The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) and Renfield (2023)


  • Carol Senf


For those of us who appreciate interesting adaptations of Dracula, 2023 was an exciting year, with the release of two films that encourage us to rethink both Stoker’s novel and its numerous adaptations. While neither Renfield (Universal; directed by Chris McKay) or The Last Voyage of the Demeter (Universal, directed by Andre Overdal) attempts to recapture the novel as a whole in the way that Francis Ford Coppola did in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1993), each film takes something from Stoker’s novel (the character Renfield or “The Captain’s Log” in Demeter) and uses it to provide the center for a fresh reading/viewing. Moreover, what is even more interesting for someone like me who tends to see books and films as means of providing insights into the period that produced them is that fact that both unabashedly focus on the primal evil of the Dracula character. There is no inkling of the romantic vampire seeking his lost love in Bram Stoker’s Dracula or the charming character in Badham’s Dracula (1979). Instead, there is only hunger and a vague desire to dominate the humans who appear ill-equipped to challenge him. What, if anything, does this emphasis on unremitting violence tell us about the time in which we live?