In 1979, Deputy Sheriff Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler) of Lillian, Ohio, and his 14-year-old son Joe (Joel Courtney), mourn the death of his mother Elizabeth (Caitriona Balfe) in a steel mill accident. Jack blames her co-worker, Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard), as she was covering his shift while he recovered from a hangover.
Four months later, Joe’s best friend Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) decides to make a low-budget zombie movie for an international film competition. Charles enlists the help of Preston (Zach Mills), Martin (Gabriel Basso), and Cary (Ryan Lee), as well as Dainard’s daughter, Alice (Elle Fanning). Though their fathers would be furious, Joe and Alice become smitten with each other.