The Last Voyage of the Demeter. Courtesy of Universal
If you’re looking for one more dose of the summer movie season, a new Dracula origin story called The Last Voyage of the Demeter just might scratch that itch. Other than that, this weekend belongs to the indies. But don’t let that turn you off if low budget flicks aren’t really your thing. This weekend is giving us aliens, time travel, a whodunnit, and a documentary about one of the world’s most beloved authors.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter (In Theaters August 11th)
It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten a good pirate movie. In fact, since the end of the Pirates of the Caribbeanfranchise in 2007, pirate movies seem to have really fallen out of favor in Hollywood. However, the whodunnit just made a huge comeback, so why not pirate movies, too? Here, we have something akin to a Dracula origin story, following the crew of the titular ship as the legendary vampire hunts them one-by-one. Instead of the refined takes we’ve seen in the past, theDemeter’s Dracula is a demonic, soulless killer who looks like he just rose from the depths of Hell about 30 minutes before the movie starts.
Interestingly enough, the film is an adaptation of just one chapter from Bram Stoker’s original novel. The book’s legendary seventh chapter has been published on its own in the past, complete with illustrations. It continues to be one of the most memorable excerpts from Stoker’s novel, but it’s not one we’ve seen much of on-screen. All in all, we’ve got a midbudget horror movie that takes a chapter from one of the most popular books of all time and stretches it to feature length. Basically, the perfect late summer movie.
Jules (In Theaters August 11th)
We all love a good “alien crashes to Earth and teaches humans what it really means to be alive” movie. E.T. is definitely the most well-known among them, but there are so many of them you could argue it’s a subgenre all on its own.
The latest entry, then, is Jules, which follows the titular character, an alien whose spaceship crashes on Earth, and the human companions that take him in, most notably a lonely older man named Milton Robinson (played by Ben Kingsley). As he and Jules develop a bond, a few nosy neighbors in his small town start talking a bit too much about Milton’s new friend, prompting the government to come and try to take Jules away.
So, yeah, it’s exactly the same plot as E.T., but that’s a great movie! We’ve all shed some tears over our fair share of adorable aliens, and Jules is, if nothing else, a welcome addition to the canon of cute martian movies.
Aporia (In Theaters August 11th)
There are hundreds of movies about people trying to move on with their lives after the death of a loved one, but how many of those movies are also about breaking the space-time continuum and the devastating consequences that follow? A new romantic, sci-fi drama called Aporia is currently trying to fill that void. Instead of your standard drama about the grieving process, Aporia gives Judy Greer’s Sophie a chance to undo her husband’s death at the hands of a drunk driver.
What follows, however, bears more of a resemblance to the twisty time-travel movie Primer than something like The Descendants. Although Sophie gets what she wants fairly early in the film, what makes Aporia so interesting is the aftermath. Timelines are ruined, memories are changed, and irreversible damage to those involved force them to rethink their decisions.
King on Screen (In Theaters August 11th)
Stephen King is easily one of the most popular authors of all time. His books have sold millions upon millions of copies worldwide and there are more than 50 adaptations of his work on the screen. In fact, there are so many adaptations that King sells the rights to some of his short stories online for just one dollar. A new documentary about the filmmakers who adapt King’s work hopes to unpack what it is that draws so many writers and directors to King’s work.
Even if you’ve never read a Stephen King book in its entirety, you’ve most likely seen an adaptation of his work or, at the very least, a horror movie directly inspired by him. Long story short, this isn’t just a film for King’s fans, but for fans of movies, television, and stories of all kinds.
Medusa Deluxe (In Theaters August 11th)
Earlier, I mentioned the resurgence of whodunits as a genuine cultural phenomenon for the last few years. Part of that may be a result of everyone’s true crime obsession, or maybe Knives Out was so good it inspired an entire wave of murder mysteries. Regardless, A24’s latest release, Medusa Deluxe, is a whodunnit that wants to stand out.
Thomas Hardiman wrote and directed this debut feature, which follows a group of contestants in a professional hairdressing competition. One of them, of course, turns up dead, prompting everyone else to start pointing fingers to find the killer. The film is working overtime to distinguish itself as a different kind of murder mystery, right down to the trailer, which credits the film’s hairdresser and cinematographer more prominently than the director.
It’s hard to say how many more whodunnits audiences can take before they fall out of favor, but films like this and last year’s Bodies Bodies Bodies are proof that there’s still some gas left in the tank.
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.