An oil drilling operation outside the town of Lakewood Alaska hits something massive and hollow at a depth of seven thousand feet The drill-stem's Geophone yields a seismic response reading, that when played back as an audio file, sounds like a (distorted) multitude of human screams.
When this recording is enhanced the clarified screams are isolated and played back as individual sounds, several of them turn out to match voice-print samples in the company security system's voice-recognition program. They all belong to deceased former employees.
One of whom is the late wife of CARTER PARIS the town's increasingly agnostic and inebriated church minister. A man with a Military past both traumatic and mysterious; he was off the grid, on a black-op demolishing oil wells in the second Iraq War, when his wife and unborn child passed away.
Carter's old high school sweetheart, Cynthia, now a Geologist for the Lexicon oil company, calls him to the office in town to ask what he as a man of God, makes of these recorded subterranean screams and the radar and E.R.T. images now reveal are coming from a massive network of immeasurably deep caverns.
Caverns now rapidly filling with an unusual strain of crude oil, in which her lab found DNA that includes the genetic markers for every known life form, and even more unkowns.
But as a despondent, disillusioned priest who is busy drinking his communion wine and rolling joints with pages torn pages from the bible as he goes about the Lord's work, Carter's reaction to this is incredulous and dismissive. So he departs to continue with his fractured exercises in ministry and outreach.
Meanwhile, this infectious strain of crude begins to surface all over town, spreading in meandering fingers and streams to infect the populace, transforming them into raging, berserkers with black veins and increasingly inhuman appearance. They prove to be increasingly fast, strong, and well-nigh indestructable as they attack, infect and multiply
Eli,The Lakewood Sheriff, And Carter's childhood friend, finds his town, and his deputies quickly overrun by this supercharged outbreak that makes your basic zombie apocalypse look slower than continal drift. He enlists Carter's aid in fighting back and finding answers.
As the onslaught burgeons, and Carter, Cynthia, Eli discover that this petroleum plague gives The assailants the advantage of constantly evolving into more hulking, dangerous versions of themselves...and the Achilles' Heel of being highly flammabibe.
They must be shot with Carter's surplus incandescent tracer rounds, and turned into screaming raging fireballs, if they are to be defeated.
But new dangers arise when the Oil well outside of town erupts in a massive skyward plume of inky black that reaches the upper atmosphere, then across the sky, in an unmistakable resemblance to the tiny meandering fingers with which it first sought its human victims - now writ large across the sky, as if to convey an intelligence, and an agenda.
Lexicon Oil's satellites detect the "electrophonic resonance" (the screams) of this "Hydrocarbon anomaly" we find they have long known aboutt, and searched for. They believe that because this thing has DNA, it can be cloned and modified to produce an inexhaustible energy source) Not unlike the Evil Corporation in the Alien Franchise, their greed compels them to hunt monsters beyond their understanding or control.
The Mercs exterminate berserkers, finding them to be ever harder, more dangerous targets. They take our heroes hostage, and ELLIS their commander, explains among other things that Crude oil is like the planet's natural defense against an overpopulating, industrialized species like ours. it exists to make us dependent on on it, until we heat the planet up to a certain trigger temperature, and trigger this immune response they refer two as "Phase two" - weaponizing us, in order to thin out our population.
It is then that the emergence of phase 3 allows our heroes a chance to escape the mercs, and run headlong right into the monstrous shape-shifting body horror of phase 3 itself: The oil mutates and transforms into all manner of hideous prehistoric monsters that try to stop the good guys from getting out of town and shutting down the pipeline.
It's nightfall now, and an ever increasing rain of crude oil commences from the black skies above. And in desperation, our heroes have inoculated themselves with an experimental bacteria the oil company developed for cleaning up oil spills.
After an encounter with a doppleganger of his dead wife, created by the anomaly to tempt him, and finding a "Thing-like" apparition in his oil flooded church, using a disembodied berserker to read on of his bibles, Carter has a has a revelation when he pauses before unwhittingly drinking from a bottle of oil-infused wine oil. Why was it lying in wait for HIM inside the bottle, like a Trojan horse. Because the oil, which harnesses and amplifies the elecrtomagnetic frequencies of weaponizable brainwaves like fear, pain and rage (the auditory "echo" of which is the recorded screams) has taken a pointed interest in him as a priest, because its one true weakness is FAITH - belief - The one emotion in the face of which fear and pain can evaporate, something he has lost over the years, and must now regain if he is to prevent this worldwide existential threat.
The erupting and raining oil is all trickling down the the lakefront district at the center of town where a hideous monster is forming in the waters, and has infected and programmed the mercs to do its bidding. And the only way for Carter, Eli and Cynthia to contain the infection now is to face the bogies at the lakefront wearing fire protections suits gained from the local Engine house, and once the ratio crude oil to snow has leaned far enough to render the whole town flammable, light the monster up at the town's lowest elevation, and make a break for the pipeline station out of town, and shut down the anomaly's one conduit to the world and everyone in it.
Eli must sacrifice himself to ignite the monster, the lake of fire it all becomes quickly engulfs the town as Carter and Cynthia chase the now infected Ellis, through this wilderness of flames, and out to the pipeline station, where final battle between Ellis, who has transformed into an especially monstrous (though still cognitive) berserker, and Carter, who realizes that - while Cynthia tries to shut off the pipeline - he can only defeat Ellis by infecting himself with the oil, and the hideous upgrades that come with it. And only by his FAITH, can he stay grounded in his mind and his will, long enough to defeat Ellis. Then to allow himself to be dissolved by the oil, as many of its more recent victims were.
He exlains to Cynthia as his flesh slowly dissolves and he leaks into the pipeline in pursuit of this anomaly that is already in there, bound for all points south, that his force of will, and faith in a long discarded God will be all that remains of him, and that, maybe, that is enough to stop it from reaching civilization.
We part with a look at the smoldering rruin of a town Cynthia now returns to begin rebuilding, where the doppleganger of the late/pregnant wife Christina, emerges from the smokey lake, the half of her skull obliterated by one of Carter's bullets, and already growing back into something monstrous and prehistoric, shouts for carter, announcing the arrival of their "baby" as she gives sudden explosive birth to some formless, screeching Jet black thing that covers the screen in bloody oily oblivion before we can glimpse what it even looks like.