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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Review My Logline  ›  Psychological horror logline Moderators: LC
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  Author    Psychological horror logline  (currently 290 views)
AlsoBen
Posted: September 30th, 2020, 6:00am Report to Moderator
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What does everyone think of this logline? I'm going for a Cronenberg vibe (with the script, not really with the logline).

"While returning from a traumatic family reunion in the countryside, an aimless young man believes he experiences an alien abduction. In the weeks that follow, he starts having haunting dreams in which his abductors instruct him to assassinate a prominent political figure -- who is also a cousin of his from the family reunion."


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Lon
Posted: September 30th, 2020, 10:35am Report to Moderator
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It's clunky. You include a couple bits that may well be part of the story, but for the purposes of a log line are incidental. For instance, "While returning from a traumatic family reunion" is both incidental and puzzling. What's traumatic about a family reunion? Was he molested by an uncle and that uncle happened to show up?

Now, before you answer either of those, understand -- it doesn't matter what the answer is. For the purpose of a log line, it's superfluous information. It's making me ask the wrong questions and is taking up space. Ditch it. Same for "from the family reunion." You've indicated the person he's meant to assassinate is a cousin, and a politician. That's all you need to say.

You tell us what is happening to your protagonist, but you don't indicate or imply their need or goal. We can assume that he struggles to resist the dreams, but as written, it sounds like he just experiences them and then does nothing. He thinks he's been abducted, then he has some scary dreams about killing someone. And?

Question -- is "aimless" the right word? Or is there something about the character -- an emotional or mental disorder, say -- that makes it more plausible that he would honestly believe he's been abducted by aliens? Is this more Taxi Driver than Fire in the Sky? More psychological than literal? Is your character just a paranoiac with an urge to kill, and whose condition finds him justifying that desire by cooking up some paranoid scenario? Or was this guy actually abducted by aliens who want him to kill a politician (which itself would raise the question, why would aliens want to kill a politician?).  

The good news is that while these are the kinds of questions your log line as written might spur, you don't actually have to answer them. You can be vague and preserve any twist you hope to spring on the reader (if this is actually your goal) while still hooking the reader. But to do so requires some fine tuning of this log line. You'll need to be very specific and deliberate in your choice of words.

Something that gives me pause -- you say you're going for a Cronenberg vibe with your script, but not your log line. That's a mistake. A log line is, essentially, the trailer for your script. It should indicate, or at the very least imply, the mood/tone/genre.  

One last thing, and this is something I feel many writers fail to consider: your log line isn't just a one-sentence pitch for your script. It's also a preview of your writing ability. If I read a log line that's unfocused and lacks concision, my natural assumption would be that the script it represents has the same problems. I wouldn't want to read that script.

So, keeping in mind that a log line should be 25-30 words (a few extra never killed anyone, but don't overdo it):

Believing he's been the victim of an alien abduction, a young man with a traumatic past must battle haunting dreams of his abductors instructing him to assassinate his cousin -- a powerful politician.
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eldave1
Posted: September 30th, 2020, 12:04pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Lon
It's clunky. You include a couple bits that may well be part of the story, but for the purposes of a log line are incidental. For instance, "While returning from a traumatic family reunion" is both incidental and puzzling. What's traumatic about a family reunion? Was he molested by an uncle and that uncle happened to show up?

Now, before you answer either of those, understand -- it doesn't matter what the answer is. For the purpose of a log line, it's superfluous information. It's making me ask the wrong questions and is taking up space. Ditch it. Same for "from the family reunion." You've indicated the person he's meant to assassinate is a cousin, and a politician. That's all you need to say.

You tell us what is happening to your protagonist, but you don't indicate or imply their need or goal. We can assume that he struggles to resist the dreams, but as written, it sounds like he just experiences them and then does nothing. He thinks he's been abducted, then he has some scary dreams about killing someone. And?

Question -- is "aimless" the right word? Or is there something about the character -- an emotional or mental disorder, say -- that makes it more plausible that he would honestly believe he's been abducted by aliens? Is this more Taxi Driver than Fire in the Sky? More psychological than literal? Is your character just a paranoiac with an urge to kill, and whose condition finds him justifying that desire by cooking up some paranoid scenario? Or was this guy actually abducted by aliens who want him to kill a politician (which itself would raise the question, why would aliens want to kill a politician?).  

The good news is that while these are the kinds of questions your log line as written might spur, you don't actually have to answer them. You can be vague and preserve any twist you hope to spring on the reader (if this is actually your goal) while still hooking the reader. But to do so requires some fine tuning of this log line. You'll need to be very specific and deliberate in your choice of words.

Something that gives me pause -- you say you're going for a Cronenberg vibe with your script, but not your log line. That's a mistake. A log line is, essentially, the trailer for your script. It should indicate, or at the very least imply, the mood/tone/genre.  

One last thing, and this is something I feel many writers fail to consider: your log line isn't just a one-sentence pitch for your script. It's also a preview of your writing ability. If I read a log line that's unfocused and lacks concision, my natural assumption would be that the script it represents has the same problems. I wouldn't want to read that script.

So, keeping in mind that a log line should be 25-30 words (a few extra never killed anyone, but don't overdo it):

Believing he's been the victim of an alien abduction, a young man with a traumatic past must battle haunting dreams of his abductors instructing him to assassinate his cousin -- a powerful politician.


Lon - you are a logline savant. The above is perfect.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Lon
Posted: September 30th, 2020, 12:11pm Report to Moderator
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Very cool of you to say. I'm just repeating stuff I learned from sites just like this one.
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eldave1
Posted: September 30th, 2020, 2:24pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Lon
Very cool of you to say. I'm just repeating stuff I learned from sites just like this one.


Well - you've got a real talent in this area. I may hit you up in the future


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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AlsoBen
Posted: October 2nd, 2020, 6:30am Report to Moderator
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Thanks El and Lon.

I know it was clunky - it's a combination of three different premises and I didn't know how to do make them concise. This has been really helpful.


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EricP
Posted: October 31st, 2020, 2:19pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AlsoBen
What does everyone think of this logline? I'm going for a Cronenberg vibe (with the script, not really with the logline).

"While returning from a traumatic family reunion in the countryside, an aimless young man believes he experiences an alien abduction. In the weeks that follow, he starts having haunting dreams in which his abductors instruct him to assassinate a prominent political figure -- who is also a cousin of his from the family reunion."


Hey AB, I love sci-fi movies. Cool idea that I hope you can make into a script.

In my opinion, I think your logline is too busy, but I like the concept.

You don't need to use this example, but IMO this might feel more engaging.

"A young man has made contact with an Alien species and is now doing their bidding to eliminate the government"....


The most holy f*** idea is that Aliens have the ability to take over our minds and turn us into killers.
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ABennettWriter
Posted: October 31st, 2020, 3:23pm Report to Moderator
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I guess the question is, "Is he really under alien control or is he just crazy?"

I like the updated, revised logline.
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AlsoBen
Posted: November 1st, 2020, 10:42pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted Text
I guess the question is, "Is he really under alien control or is he just crazy?"


AB, that's what I'd be going for with the script. The alien abduction will never actually be seen, it's more about his family trauma and how he's experiencing that via the so-called alien control. It will be established that the family member he is instructed to assassinate is actually a cousin responsible for something significant harmful from the protag's childhood and the script would actually be about coming to terms with that.


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