Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Logline Central - Psycho Killer

Logline Central is an irregular segment that takes a deeper look at loglines of scripts or projects that have just been purchased, as listed on DoneDealPro.

Here's an interesting logline that sprang up on DoneDeal today:

Title: Psycho Killer
Logline: A nameless, masked murderer leaves a trail of victims across the U.S. In a chance encounter on the plains of Nebraska, he kills a highway patrolman. The only witness to the crime, the patrolman's young wife, a fellow officer, sets out to hunt the killer down, as the psycho killer plans his masterpiece: a mass murder which guarantees him a triumphant entry into hell.
Writer: Andrew Kevin
More: Eli Roth and Eric Newman will produce. Gavin Polone will direct. 
Disclaimer up front: I'm always quasi-curious about serial killer films. I even wrote a draft of a low-budget serial killer drama. (I've never seen someone so scared by something I did as when I had to return to the Borders clerk because she overcharged me for the two serial killer books I bought for research. I guess it's not often that someone buys serial killer books - mind the plural - makes "harmless" chit-chat during the transaction, and then comes back a couple minutes later.) 

This logline is interesting. If I was a teacher, I certainly wouldn't use this as a prime example of a logline. It's actually closer to the length of the pitches I delivered to my then-prospective agent a couple weeks ago. If we're talking textbook logline, I still argue for one (possibly two) sentence that essentially follows this format: When X (inciting incident) happens, Y (protagonist) must Z (goal).

That said, I think today's example offers an interesting way to breakdown the film. At first glance, leaving a "trail of victims across the U.S." seems like it could be a movie in and of itself. However, after a bit further reading, it actually strikes me as the set-up. By the time the film opens, this trail of bodies has already been laid, and the authorities are onto the killer (at least the idea that he's out there, that is). The inciting incident - or at latest, end of Act One - is the patrolman's death. That's what really sparks the movie. And even though the logline opens with mention of the killer, I wouldn't be surprised if the patrolman's wife is the protagonist.

HOWEVER (and that's in all caps for a reason), the very last part throws a lot of that back up into the air. "As the psycho killer plans his masterpiece: a mass murder which guarantees him a triumphant entry into hell." Wow. Ok, here's what this does. A) It takes everything to a new level. A mass murder that guarantees a triumphant entry into hell is an interesting sentence, very curious and invoking imagery, but it might be too much. Unless we're following the guy into hell, we don't know what becomes of him after he dies. Therefore, his entry into hell could be completely irrelevant. B) It shifts focus back to the killer as the potential protagonist. His goal is to cause this mass extinction of people in whatever town the film is set. His antagonist, then, is the patrolman's wife trying to stop him. C) It makes me wonder a bit about the other themes. So far, we've had cops and killers. Now, though, invoking hell brings into a possible religious element, and certainly the presence of something much greater, which makes me wonder how it's all strung through - thematically - from the getgo.

Either way, I'll be curious to know more (though again caution that this might not be the best go-to source for logline examples, for the reasons above).