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SYFY WIRE The Last Voyage of the Demeter

First trailer for Dracula film 'The Last Voyage of the Demeter' brings terror to the high seas

This summer, get ready for a new vision of Bram Stoker's Dracula story.

By Matthew Jackson

Bram Stoker's legendary 1897 vampire novel Dracula is one of the most-adapted works in all of Western literature, so you might think you've seen this story tackled from every possible angle. This summer, The Last Voyage of the Demeter is here to challenge that notion, and we've finally gotten a first look with a new trailer.

Directed by horror star André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane DoeScary Stories to Tell in the Dark) from a script by Bragi F. Schut and Zak Olkewicz, Demeter is an adaptation not of the entire Dracula novel, but of one very specific portion of the story: The journey Dracula takes from Transylvania to London to begin his reign of terror at Carfax Abbey. In a single chapter of the novel, titled "The Captain's Log," Stoker lays out how Dracula gradually preys on the entire crew of the ship transporting him to his new home, but we're only granted glimpses of the terror that plays out on the voyage. Now, we'll get the larger story. 

RELATED: David Dastmalchian teases The Last Voyage of the Demeter

"[It's] the idea of taking this one chapter that's basically the scariest chapter in the book and turning the Dracula story on its head a little bit by seeing it from the perspective of somebody who has no idea what a vampire is, and they have no idea what the rules are," Øvredal told SYFY WIRE ahead of the trailer's premiere. "They have no idea about anything, and they're just being attacked by this creature, we are on a ship on the ocean in the Mediterranean Sea in 1897, and they don't have anything to defend themselves with, and they're stuck. And all that was just such a wonderful take on a Dracula story."

What's the plot of The Last Voyage of the Demeter?

It begins with the crew of the Demeter, led by a steadfast Captain (Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham) and his first mate (David Dastmalchian), who are eager to collect the bonus they've been promised if they deliver their mysterious cargo on time. But something unnatural is happening on this ship, something a passenger named Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is determined to understand, and a stowaway named Anna (Aisling Franciosi) might know all too well. 

Universal Pictures dropped the first trailer for the film Thursday morning, and it lays out how each of these characters respond to the darkness that threatens to consume their ship, and offers a few tantalizing glimpses at a very monstrous Dracula. Basically, it plays like Alien on waves, and that's a win in our books. 

As you might have noticed, Øvredal and company aren't being shy at all about the premise of their story, keeping the hook of The Last Voyage of Demeter right up front rather than attempting to shroud the supernatural threat in mystery ahead of the film's summer release. For the director, that's all part of delivering on the promise of good horror.

"You need to show the goods," he said. "You need to put your stamp out there in the world and say, 'Here we are. We are a movie about the most famous villain in Western culture, and we're also doing it in a different way that you've really seen before.' So we have to lean into that in the marketing.

How much should a horror movie reveal?

"Every movie I've made, this [question] of revealing things is always the number one conversation, what to reveal and what not reveal," he continued. "And usually I find that in the end it's better to reveal more than you actually initially suspected you would. We need the audience to understand what movie it is."

If the trailer is any indication of what we're about to get, we understand The Last Voyage of the Demeter to be a visceral, often claustrophobic horror journey, dominated by the raw power of Dracula out for blood by any means necessary.

"I wanted to get a really grounded, dirty, realistic portrayal of Dracula from the get-go," Øvredal said. "Something that is really intensely feral, because he's on a ship trying to hide on this big journey for a month. And how does he survive? What are his plans and what goes wrong and how does he need to deal with it? And even though we're seeing the story from the perspective of the crew, we're still following, tracking his story."

The Last Voyage of the Demeter arrives in theaters on Aug. 11.