Elsinore is a facility for the criminally insane. We are introduced to five of its inmates who inhabit this world behind a barbed wire perimeter; a world where unseen forces are felt and voices are heard; a world where demons dwell.
The five patients have troubled and tortured pasts – each is a convicted murderer:
Greta Goodbear, brutally abused her entire life first by her father and then by her husband, finds herself behind Elsinore’s fence because she turned the tables on the man in her life and fatally bludgeoned him.
Lincoln Smith, a gentle giant, quelled an angry God by burning three people to death.
Artie Lavados smothered his elderly mother. Now his only attachment is the garbage bag that trails after him.
Kenny Wyatt rewarded the women who loved him by killing them.
Suzy Hutch, a small, lost, wispy child-like woman, murdered her baby in a fit of emotion to punish her mother for committing suicide. Now she searches for her child incessantly, refusing to accept that he is dead.
Dr. David Sanders, a young psychologist, still trying to prove himself, is assigned to the facility and given the task of attempting to make “contact” with this paranoid and psychotic group.
At first he is shocked and sickened by their crimes and as he tries to reach them they are wary, uncommunicative and resentful. They sit in emotional isolation unresponsive to attempts to draw them out.
In desperation Sanders distributes paper and paint and requests the group each compose a self-portrait. The tension builds as the patients ignore him. Finally there is a breakthrough as Lincoln splatters colors onto a sheet. The others slowly join in.
This is the start of a connection and as each killer’s story unfolds, Sanders learns something of their background. Slowly, as more is revealed in riveting intensity and vivid flashback, his incomprehension turns to understanding and his disgust gives way to compassion. He deals with Lincoln’s outburst at a Halloween party and Suzy’s severe response to a suicide. He helps Artie emerge from his shell to shake the hand of a new friend and lets Kenny know the world is not his enemy. He watches Greta search to find the path away from anger to reunite with her children, to form relationships, to trust, to care, to hope. As Sanders experiences the defining moment of each of the five’s violence, he finds not killers but damaged people whose vulnerability touches his heart.
In dramatic and poignant moments, each member of the group faces their past life – some are able to deal with this and make headway towards rehabilitation but some cannot accept their deeds and an unpredictable series of events lead to a powerful and unexpected climax.