Vetting a Logline – The Fright Chamber

Here’s a logline that was submitted by /u/nasteeninja for consideration on my live screenwriting show (, now every Saturday at 5 PM). I’ll get to the script at a later date, probably on video.

A sadistic doctor, hellbent on immortality, abducts a troubled nurse and forces her through a series of constructed nightmares designed to steal her subconscious.

I generally like this, it makes me think of movies like the Cell, or a more supernatural/scifi take on Saw. It’s got an implicit second act, so my imagination can work with that.

It’s told from the POV of the villain, not the hero. That’s cool for the genre. I don’t remember any character names from the Saw franchise, other than Jigsaw.

My main problem with this is that it raises more questions than it answers. I don’t know what a constructed nightmare is. Is he using a neural network computer? The mystic powers of the Ruby of Cyttorak? A lo-fi warehouse full of mundane creepy stuff? That should be made clear.

Hellbent on immortality suggests supernatural, but I’m still not sure how this nurse’s subconscious aides him in his stated goal.


DOCTOR: I will steal this woman’s subconcious with my unspecified, high concept device, and it will make me immortal.

LAB ASSISTANT: How does that work, sir?

DOCTOR: That’s unclear.

The immortality bit is optional. On a logline level, I don’t care why the bad guys in SAW or FINAL DESTINATION do their thing, only how what they do is interesting (on a script level this matters, but we’re talking loglines). I’d recommend striking that in favor of language that tells me what the central mechanism is, or even if this is going to be a supernatural horror or a sci fi horror story.

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

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