Post your loglines. Get and give feedback.

By Eva Pohler

GENRE: Thriller
LOGLINE: A suicidal teen is sent to an island to an experimental facility called the Purgatorium where the doctors orchestrate a series of frightening, cathartic experiences that are ultimately successful but cross ethical lines. (Published trilogy in need of adaptation.)


The Purgatorium Series is a three-book teen thriller recently published and in need of an adaptation. Seventeen-year-old Daphne is invited by Cam, her next-door neighbor and lifelong friend, to accompany him to a summer retreat to an island off the coast of California. Daphne is a high school drop out who has recently tried to take her life because she feels her parents blame her for her sister's death and her brother's spiraling mental illness. Her wealthy parents encourage her to take this retreat, but Daphne sees it as an opportunity to be around knives again so she can finish the job. Daphne is given a somewhat cryptic briefing by the doctor who meets her and Cam on the catamaran that takes them from Ventura to Santa Cruz Island--mostly an uninhabited wildlife preserve with Chumash ruins and with a small national park on the eastern point. Daphne learns there will be therapeutic exercises. She imagines a zipline, rock wall, and the like. As the driver takes his passengers from Prisoners Harbor along the canyon ridge to the hidden resort, Daphne witnesses a man pulling a girl by the hair in a copse of trees in Central Valley. The driver pulls over, and the passengers search the area but come up empty. As they continue toward the resort, Daphne gets a weird vibe, like the whole thing was staged, especially when the driver breaks into a monologue about the ghosts that haunt the island. They seem to be messing with her. Really strange. Cam helps Daphne get settled into her unit--one of many free-standing cabanas in a beautiful resort complete with pool, tennis courts, and a main building where the dining hall, offices, and ballroom are located. A series of wooden steps lead from the canyon up to a boardwalk and a pristine private beach. Daphne decides she will make the most of her last few days. She even makes a new friend named Stan who swims and plays billiards with her and Cam. But alternating with the fun are other odd occurrences like the strange scene in Central Valley. An elevator drops three floors with her trapped inside for several minutes, "ghosts" visit her cabana one night and accuse her of being one of the dead, she and her kayak group get trapped in a sea cave, and she is dangerously close to being attacked by sharks. When she asks to go home, she's told a boat won't be available for a few days, so she decides to speed up her appointment with the kitchen knife. With Cam asleep in her bed (she doesn't want to be alone and he was more than happy to stay with her), she is about to slit her wrists when she's interrupted by Cam needing to pee. His timing makes her suspicious, as does his behavior when he returns from the bathroom. He comforts her as though he knows what she's just attempted, and this really freaks her out. The next morning, before leaving her unit, Cam passes her a note and whispers that she should take it to the bathroom to read, because it's the only room not under surveillance. In the note, he tells her that his parents sent him to this place the previous summer, and it really helped him. He encourages her to trust him but warns that things will get worse before they get better. That afternoon, Cam takes her to a strange performance in a natural amphitheater embedded in the canyon. The performance is called a Limuw Ceremony, based on a Chumash legend in which a dead girl is resurrected when her body hair is shaved and a special oil applied to her skin. Daphne can't tell if the girl is acting or truly mortified when she awakens to a bald head. Later, Cam explains that all the patients at the facility go through this ritual. She says there's no way she will. He asks her to keep an open mind, saying that sometimes it takes something really dramatic to help us let go of the past. Daphne begins to suspect he's been brainwashed by a bunch of lunatics. The next day they take an amazing tour of the island on horseback and see humpback whales, but she gets separated from her group and then bucked from the horse and becomes lost on the island. While crying beneath a scraggly tree in the rain, she spots a tent that belongs to Stan, a graduate student in anthropology who's studying the Chumash ruins. They hear a noise and Stan is attacked by a stranger on horseback, so they break down the tent and seek a hiding place at an abandoned bunkhouse on the "haunted" side of the island. While they are there, they hear the scream on haunted bridge that the island's legends are famous for. Stan speculates that it's some kind of bird, but Daphne sees something--a woman in white--and is sure the people from the resort are playing games with them. Stan has a gun and they take turns keeping watch for the night. In the morning they mistake a man named Pete for someone affiliated with the Purgatorium, but the man claims to be on the run from it himself and shares stories of how he's been tormented. They join up to get off the island by making their way to the busiest harbor, but their plan is interrupted and it is eventually revealed that Stan has been leading them back and is in cahoots with the Purgatorium. Pete makes a run for it, and after a time, Daphne finds an opportunity to run, too. She hides out in Central Valley and contemplates drowning herself in the stream but decides she wants to live. She heads for Scorpion Anchorage, where she might find a boat willing to give her a ride to the mainland. She's scaling the bluffs to get past the resort and spots her ex boyfriend standing on the boardwalk overlooking the beach. He tells her that her parents received a letter that she needed thousands more dollars and they were worried and asked him to come find her. She reveals all the frightening experiences she's been enduring and begs him to help her escape. Skeptical of whether she's in her right mind, Brock agrees to help, but only after he returns to the resort for his wallet (he came to the beach from the resort in his swimming trunks). Afraid to stay in one place too long, Daphne goes on ahead to wait for Brock, but on the way spots a dead body floating in the water. It's Pete. Brock returns later that night with orders from the doctor to return Daphne to the resort. He tells Daphne that it was all therapy and is shocked when she tells him about Pete. They make a run for it together, and along their way, work through the issues that separated them. He also helps her work through her guilt over her sister's death. They run into trouble on the way to the harbor and are almost captured twice. Daphne twists her ankle and Brock carries her the rest of the way to the dock, where they climb aboard and a captain shoots Daphne with morphine. Daphne awakes, bald, at her own Limuw Ceremony and is pissed to discover Brock and Pete (who isn't dead) were in on it. Her parents are there, and part of the ceremony requires Daphne to throw buckets of water on the people who have hurt her--her mother, her father, Brock, and Cam. It's an emotional ceremony during which her parents beg for her forgiveness. Daphne successfully works through a lot of emotions buts she's still angry over what she's been put through on the island until later that night when Cam secretly invites her to participate in a similar therapy for her parents and Brock. She's thrilled. (This is where book one ends.) In the second novel, Gray's Domain, Dr. Gray defends her dubious methods by claiming that all treatments come with risks, but when real bullets fly and lives are at stake, Daphne decides she wants no part of it and hatches a plan to save her family. In the third book, The Calibans, Daphne returns to the island to save her best friend, Cam, and the other "Calibans" who've been brainwashed by Dr. Gray, but, once again, things aren't what they seem. Daphne's entire world comes crashing down along with the Purgatorium when federal ATF officers arrive with a warrant during a dangerous exercise. What she believed to be so isn't, and the blurry line between art and reality leaves her reeling. We ultimately discover that Dr. Gray has created her therapy based on Freud's notion of childhood play--how adults look for ways to continue it through art, and how art serves as a catharsis. She explains, “By the time I became a graduate student at Harvard, I had already developed my concept of living art as a form of therapy. It seemed to me that if a story could provide a life-changing experience for readers, then jumping into the pages of the book would be that much more intense. Patients who suffer from clinical depression could benefit from an opportunity to go back to childhood play, so that they could live the art more intensely than a normal reader. I began by turning part of the basement of my building at Harvard into a laboratory for experimenting with adult play—what I quickly named ‘living art’ so as not to be confused with anything sexual. Like a child on a playground, I created games and scenarios, and I soon found that the games that put the subjects through a terrifying experience had the best outcomes, especially when the subject was led to believe that the experience was real. Although knowing that a game was just a game still managed to bring great pleasure to my subjects, the belief that a game was real brought an even higher level of catharsis to my subjects."

register for stage 32 Register / Log In