A teenager tries to shield his family from his father's violence in this downbeat drama. Jimmy West (Ryan Phillippe) is a young man growing up within a horribly dysfunctional family in a small Texas town. His father Ray (John Savage) is a Vietnam veteran whose physical and emotional scars from the war have turned him into a psychotic; he terrorizes his two younger children, Mikey (Adam Burke) and Mark (Devon Michael), brutalizes his wife Kate (Nastassja Kinski), and sometimes forces Jimmy and Kate to have sex at gunpoint. Jimmy's girlfriend Traci (Jenny Lewis) is about to move away to attend college, and while Jimmy would like to go with her (and with his abilities as a baseball player he could probably win a scholarship), he's afraid to leave his mother and siblings behind with no protection against Ray's abuse. One night, a man stops by Ray's tavern and begins asking questions; the stranger arouses Ray's fear and suspicion, and he never makes it home after an 'accident' in the man's room. The death leads the local police to begin asking questions of their own, and soon a number of ugly revelations about the family's history come to light.