A young man grieving the recent death of his sister heads out on a camping with his best friend looking to escape his troubled life, when they find themselves trapped in an underground bunker inhabited by a sacrificial religious cult and with seemingly no way out.
You’re already said that it’s a bit long so I won’t bother commenting on that haha.
If the incident that upsets the balance in his life is the death of his sister then his goal to correct this balance should be overcoming the grief in some way. The death of his sister just seems like a convenient way to get him both physically and emotionally in the place you want him to be for the story to take place. Can the religious cult have had something to do with his sister’s death? He’s angry and looking for someone to blame so he drags his friend along to find this cult his sister had joined?
He’s also escaping his troubled life. I kinda feel like this is a separate issue to his sister’s death. His sister died and also he has an already troubled life – I’d say pick one. There are also two ways to read this… is it his friend looking to escape his troubled life? Or the MC? Ambiguity is where loglines go to die.
When you say “young”… how young? 18? 25? Can you give this guy another characteristic that might teach us something about the character instead?
What is the best friend’s purpose? I get that you don’t want the MC to be on his own but the best friend is adding nothing but extra words right now.
To me, your themes of escapism and transcendence can be heavily tied into the cult, their motives and what they do. If the sister was involved in the cult and died in order to escape her life and transcend (as the cult promises) then it would make sense that the main character would want to escape his own life in order to find logic and reason in his sister’s death. It’s human nature. By doing this he can then be dragged into the cult and decide whether to unmask the cult for what they are BUT ultimately mean returning to his unhappy life, OR do as his sister did – escape from reality, choosing to “transcend”.
By having him choose to not follow in his sister’s footsteps and return to his difficult life shows him rising to a higher emotional state than he was before… or transcending. He then has to escape the cult. It comes full circle.
When his sister is ceremoniously killed by her religious cult, a bitter 18 year old plunges into her mysterious world to expose the cultists as the murderers he believes them to be.
Not perfect and possibly not the story you’re trying to tell but I think all the elements line up pretty well.
As the others have said. And:
The logline buries the lead, the story hook which is the” sacrificial religious cult” (although I don’t have a clear vision of what that means.)
And I don’t see an causal connection between the setup and the predicament; “find themselves trapped” is weak, not a substantial inciting incident to kick off the plot. Nor do I intuit a psychological (thematic) thread connecting his objective and subjective problems.