1983 - A logger named Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives in a cabin up in the Shadow Mountains with his girlfriend, an artist named Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). They
spend most of their time together, although Mandy enjoys immersing herself in fantasy and science novels.
Mandy goes out into the woods and sees the carcass of a fawn. Later on, Red suggests that they leave the area. Mandy starts to tell a story from her childhood in which her father made her and her friends watch as he killed a bunch of baby starlings, but Mandy ran away before he made her do anything.
One afternoon, Mandy is going for a walk in the woods. A van being ridden by a cult, the Children of the New Dawn, passes her. Later that evening, the cult leader, Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) talks to one of the older members, Mother Marlene (Olwen Fouere). Jeremiah orders her to get him Mandy, as he has become enamored with her. He scolds Marlene and orders her to get Brother Swan (Ned Dennehy). Swan takes out the Horn of Abraxus, and Jeremiah also orders him to offer up one of their overweight members, Brother Lewis (Stephan Fraser), as a sacrifice.
That night, Swan blows into the horn, summoning three demonic biker creatures known as Black Skulls - Skratch (Ivailo Dimitrov), Sis (Haley Saywell), and Scabs (Kalin Kerin). Swan gives the leader a blood offering, and the Black Skulls break into Red and Mandy's home to abduct them.
Marlene uses a wasp soaked in some kind of drug and stings Mandy before bringing her to a room with the other cult members. Jeremiah plays a record of music he made that he says was inspired by The Carpenters. As the music plays, Jeremiah spouts some words about claiming to be touched by the light of God and being granted some kind of wisdom. Mandy experiences some sort of LSD trip as Jeremiah talks, and he undoes his robe to expose himself to Mandy. She begins laughing in his face as he starts to angrily masturbate.
Jeremiah goes to Red with two other "brothers", telling him that Jesus Christ's one mistake was not offering a sacrifice in his place. He stabs Red in the side with a dagger and then forces him to watch as they put Mandy in a sack, hang her upside down, and then burn her alive until she is nothing more than ash and bones, all while most of the cult members laugh. After they depart the area, Red frees himself and crawls over to Mandy's remains.
Red goes home and takes swigs of booze as he screams in agony. He then goes to the trailer of a friend named Caruthers (Bill Duke) to fetch weapons to hunt the cult and the demon bikers. Caruthers knows about the Black Skulls, stating that they were originally thought to be simply creatures of lore that went after people in the area, but were apparently the result of a special batch of LSD that messed them up. Red then goes to forge a special axe using arrows given to him by Caruthers before heading off to hunt.
Red drives toward a river where the Black Skulls are apparently hiding out. As he attempts to run down one of them, Red's van gets flipped over, and he is captured. He wakes up in a room with one hand chained to a pipe and the other nailed to the floor. Sis enters to taunt Red, but he breaks the pipe from its base and whacks her with it before sending her falling down a vent in the floor. Red pulls the nail out and walks into the living room to find Skratch doing coke, and he has a large blade for a penis. Red goes to attack him, but Skratch flips Red over him and onto a table. He goes to kill Red, but Red slashes his throat, spraying blood all over Red's face. Red does some coke before the masekd Black Skull re-emerges to shoot at Red, but Red snaps his neck. Red then finds a jar containing the LSD that the Black Skulls took, and he samples a single drop, but it's powerful enough to make him see freaky visions. Outside, Red finds Scabs, who taunts Red by saying "She's still burning". Red lights him on fire before chopping his head off.
Red then visits The Chemist (Richard Brake), who appears to be cooking up some drugs while his pet tiger Lizzie sits in her cage. The Chemist sees Red and knows that the Children have wronged him. He tells Red that they have headed north.
Swan and Sister Lucy (Line Pillet) are driving until Swan stops. Red pulls him out and starts beating him. Swan makes the fatal mistake of saying how brightly Mandy burned, and Red sticks the axe deep into Swan's mouth as he spurts blood. Red spares Lucy, as she had the least involvement in Mandy's death, before heading off to find the others. He spots Brother Hanker (Alexis Julemont) spit-shining a car, and Red hurls the axe into his head. Red then finds Brother Klopek (Clement Barronet), and the two of them have a duel with chainsaws. Klopek almost wins until Red wraps a chain around Klopek's neck and pulls him down to get sliced by his chainsaw.
Red finds a church where Jeremiah and Marlene are staying. Marlene attempts to appease Red by telling him that she is an excellent lover who tends to her partner's needs. Red walks into the room where Jeremiah is, and he tosses Marlene's severed head toward him. As Jeremiah starts to realize what is happening, he goes from more high-and-mighty boasting to being reduced to a coward begging for his life by telling Red he will fellate him if he spares him. Red then squeezes Jeremiah's head until his eyes pop out and his skull is crushed. Red then drops a lighter and sets the whole place on fire.
As Red walks out, he has a vision of presumably when he first met Mandy at a party. He starts to drive away and appears to see Mandy sitting next to him. As Red drives away, we see an otherworldly landscape appear behind him.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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A logger named Red Miller lives with his girlfriend Mandy Bloom. The two are abducted by a sadistic religious cult called the Children of the New Dawn, led by Jeremiah Sand. After Mandy laughingly rejects Jeremiah, he has her burnt alive in front of Red. After Red frees himself, he forges an axe and goes out for revenge.
Red first goes after the Black Skulls, demonic bikers hopped up on an insane kind of LSD that were summoned to kidnap him and Mandy. After slaying them, Red goes to find the Children. He slaughters most of them (save for one innocent member), before finding Jeremiah and crushing his skull. Red burns their church down and he drives away, but the landscape behind him appears hellish and otherworldly.
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