AMY and her father JOHN, a psychology professor, are making their way to the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina when BOOM! A violent explosion rocks the premises. The bombing leaves one dead and gives John a Traumatic Brain Injury. After being released from the hospital, John develops a dependency on the pain medication Tramadol.
BUDDY ORR, a shock jock radio show host with far-right leanings, turns out to be the one responsible for the bombing. To evade the FBI, Buddy disappears into the Smokey Mountains. There, he broadcasts xenophobic messages to his followers known as “NUGGETS.” The Nugget Nation begins an all-out insurrection, going head-to-head with police and firebombing political party headquarters.
Eight months after the bombing, John suffers through a cold turkey withdrawal from the Tramadol. As John continues to struggle with the effects of the TBI, he worries about letting down Amy and his wife CALLIE. Callie is an Iraq War veteran who has had PTSD challenges of her own. In addition, the fact that Amy’s sexual awakening is not quit what Callie expected or is prepared for, further creates a rift in the family dynamics.
Struggling with his brain trauma and drug abuse, John begins to see and hear visions of Buddy who advises him to do irresponsible things. As his trauma intensifies, John continues to lose himself in confusion and even sudden outbursts of violence. When he explodes at a faculty softball game, the head of the department forces him to go on unpaid administrative leave. John starts taking Tramadol again and lies to Callie about his suspension. Fed up with his behavior, Callie decides to leave John.
Having lost his family and his job, John heads into the woods to find Buddy and put an end to the visions. John tries and fails to commit suicide but finds himself ensnared in one of Buddy’s traps instead. A crazed Buddy takes John back to his camp, ranting about how his insurrection will rebuild America.
Meanwhile Amy, who fell asleep as a stowaway in the trunk of John’s car, walks the woods in a fight against the elements to try and survive. She doesn’t get far before Buddy finds her and drags her back to camp, zip tying her up next to her father. Buddy has no love lost for John who he deems a “Mud Person” due to what he believes to be his Hispanic heritage. He verbally jousts with John and Amy as he spouts philosophy from Heidegger to Hobbes in his attempt to convince himself of his own righteousness and the integrity of the White Nationalist cause.
Meanwhile, Callie discovers Amy and John are missing and manages to locate them using the Find My Phone app. Callie tracks down John’s car and trudges through the woods, amidst a growing snowstorm, in search of her daughter. She believes John may have kidnapped Amy but finds him Buddy’s prisoner instead. Callie attacks Buddy, who continues his unhinged tirade, as a desperate fight to the finish ensues. Finally, employing all of her Ranger training, she bests him with a knife into his ribcage. The FBI arrive on the scene, rescuing a near frozen John and Amy.
As John recedes into the heavens on the helicopter, we see a plausible alternate reality, where Buddy’s bomb at the BofA stadium killed hundreds. A terrified Amy watches medics remove John’s dead body. Buddy views his handy work from a nearby rooftop. As he turns to face us, a group of Nuggets fill in behind him. The marching phalanx draws ever closer and the iconic image of Buddy, wearing his Nugget Nation Hat, ominously fills the screen.