After experiencing the brutal death of her parents, a headstrong young woman begins having visions of a nefarious shadow creature that hunts her through sleep paralysis.
In 1964 Haiti, 14-year-old ARISTIDE watches helplessly as his mother gets mauled by a SHADOW CREATURE; its three-fingered claw hand being something he’ll never forget.
In Long Island 2021, graduation caps fling through the air as DAKOTA graduates high school, her parents and little brother NOAH cheering on. RICK, a long-time classmate, congratulates her as they exchange some flirtatious eye contact. But that day of celebration quickly turns tragic when she returns home and discovers her parents’ BLUDGEONED corpses. Fearing the worst, she searches frantically for Noah, finding him terrified in his bedroom closet.
Six months later, Dakota jolts awake from a recurring nightmare of her murdered parents; night terrors that are gradually taking a toll on her. Instead of heading to college, she’s now become a mother figure to Noah. While he’s at school, she works at a nursing home with her friend JILLIAN. Despite all this, a date with Rick provides her reprieve. The night ends with a kiss. Later as Dakota takes a bath, she dozes off in the tub. But this time, she has a different nightmare. The lights go out and she wakes up in bed IMMOBILE. She’s being TERRORIZED by a shadow creature.
The next morning, Dakota meets with DR. PURDUE, a psychiatrist hired by the state to evaluate her. She questions whether Dakota should be taking care of Noah, which makes for a contentious session. Dakota receives a call that Noah never showed up for school. She finds him at their parents’ gravesite, which has become routine. The stress causes sleep paralysis to take hold again that night, with the shadow creature hunting and trapping Dakota in her bedroom. She’s awakened by a distraught Noah, who found her paralyzed and unresponsive. To her shocking surprise, Dakota discovers CLAW MARKS on the wall.
Dakota does research on sleep paralysis to understand why this is happening. Afraid to fall asleep, she stays up all night drinking coffee. Having been up for 36 hours, Dakota finally dozes off at work, where she’s once again attacked by the shadow creature. She snaps awake to find bruises on her legs. She confides in Purdue, who tells her she’s just hallucinating. Displeased, she visits a bookstore to continue her research when a mysterious old man hovers over Dakota. Spooked, she stares on as he points to the book in her hand and mutters:
“You’ve been marked.”
The old man is Aristide, who disappears before she could engage further. Desperate for answers, Dakota tracks him down but his daughter slams the door on her, refusing to let them speak. Paranoia takes over Dakota more and more as she continues to lose sleep. She confides in Jillian about the shadow creature hunting her. “I think it wants to kill me”, Dakota says emotionally. Despite her skepticism, Jillian comforts her with a hug. Things take a turn for the worse when the shadow creature attacks Dakota. She gets rescued by Aristide before it kills her.
She finally receives the answers she’s been seeking. Aristide lays it all down for her - that the creatures use human bodies to move from the world of shadows into our world… that they feed on fear and tragedy and that she was marked the night her parents died. Once they cross over, they become just like us - flesh and bone. But divulging that information comes with a hefty price as Aristide and his daughter are killed by the same shadow creature that took his mother as a boy. Meanwhile, Dakota’s shadow creature transports her to a dystopian world where Noah, Rick and Jillian are being tortured. She awakes from this nightmare, only to find sketches of the shadow creature in Noah’s drawing pad. Her fear exacerbates… he too is being hunted.
She knows this has to end. Dakota asks Rick to help kill the shadow creature. They buy a gun and also try to enlist Jillian’s help, but she refuses. In FLASHBACK, we see Jillian waking up in bed at the same time that Dakota is marked. She tells Dakota that they share a common bond - the shadow creature that marked her is the same one that marked Jillian two hundred years ago in Japan. Once a shadow creature fully crosses over, the person marked lives forever. Jillian drops the bomb - it’s not trying to kill her but rather recruit her to help fight other shadow creatures planning to cross over and wreck havoc on the human world.
That night, Purdue shows up to Dakota’s house under the pretense of her missing sessions. Unexpectedly, she attacks Rick and Dakota with a dagger, knocking him out. Purdue exclaims to Dakota that she must die and that Dakota and her shadow creature can’t stop the planned cross-over. Purdue gets Dakota in a headlock and puts her to sleep. Before she can plunge her dagger into her, Jillian arrives and takes out Purdue. As Dakota lies unconscious, her shadow creature finally crosses, followed by Purdue’s shadow creature. The creatures battle each other intensely, with Purdue’s eventually slain. We see it for the first time in full: A tall, humanoid creature with BIOLUMINESCENT MARKINGS on its body. A HORRIFIC yet MAGNIFICENT sight. It tells Dakota that it’s not over…
The cross-over has just begun.