Welcome to Briarcliff
2012 - A man named Leo and his wife, Teresa explore the abandoned Briarcliff Asylum, recounting some stories about the dilapidated ruins. They continue to make their way through the building, eventually getting to an old chair used to strap down patients. Leo and Teresa begin getting friskier before being distracted by a noise. They go to follow it and it seems to come from inside a metal door. Leo puts his phone through the slot at the top to try and capture an image on the camera. After some movement, whatever is on the other side of the door tears off Leo's arm.
1964 - A family on a road trip stop for fuel at a gas station attended by a man named Kit Walker. His friends, including Billy, want to scare someone with Kit's bosses gun. The man they want to scare is black and made a pass at a white woman. Kit declines whilst his friends continue making racist innuendo about his 'maid'. Kit goes home to his wife, Alma instead. Their interracial marriage is a secret as both their families and community wouldn't approve. After making love, Alma goes downstairs to make dinner. Mysterious lights coming from outside catch Kit's attention and he goes to investigate, thinking it's Billy causing trouble. He hears Alma screaming for help from inside as the blinding lights continue coming from the sky. Suddenly, loud booming sounds erupt and break the glass windows. When the noise ends, Kit looks worried and sees the items in his house levitating. He's suddenly lifted to the ceiling as the lights and sounds return.
Lana Winters is a journalist researching for a story on Briarcliff's bakery. She encounters a child-like microcephalic woman named Pepper in the yard. She's approached by Sister Mary Eunice who informs her that Pepper drowned her sister's baby and sliced its ears off. A young woman named Shelley is a patient at Briarcliff. She has her hair shaved off by the leader of the asylum, Sister Jude; likely a punishment for sexual misconduct. Sister Jude states that she doesn't believe in mental illness and believes that Shelley is a 'victim of her own lust'.
Sister Mary Eunice rushes in to inform Sister Jude that 'Bloody Face' is arriving. The guards drag in Kit, who is processed and sedated. He's there to determine his fitness to stand trial for murdering women. He tries to tell Sister Jude of his strange experience at home, believing he was abducted by aliens but Jude has none of it. She insults Alma, prompting Kit to spit at her. She decides to punish him with the cane.
Kit is taken to the common room where he encounters many more patients who live in Briarcliff. He meets Grace, a young woman who warns him not to turn off the repetitive music being played. He also meets Shelley who sexually harasses him. Spivey, a greaser at the asylum, picks a fight with Kit and calls him Bloody Face. He then makes racist comments directed at his wife. They begin to fight physically but her interrupted by Sister Jude. Kit is hauled off to solitary confinement.
Dr. Arden is in his private room, mutating plants with gamma rays. He and Sr Jude are butting heads over missing patients. Arden says they are dead and cremated and don't have any family who will miss them anyway.
Grace visits Kit in solitary. She offers him comfort and a drag of her cigarette. When he asks her what she's there for, she answers; 'They say I chopped up my family.' Kit asks her if it's true and she declines. Hearing footsteps, she leaves but promises to return.
Lana dines at home with her lover, Wendy who works as a third grade science teacher. Lana aspires to win a high profile article but her boss insists she stick to the cooking column.
Sr Jude is praying as she cooks dinner. She's dressed in red lingerie and touches her body with a perfume-sprayed hand. Later, she has dinner with Monsignor Howard. She asks where he found Dr Arden and he rebuffs her concerns. He insists that science and faith can co-exist under the same roof. He also states that Jude can be his Mother Superior in his new order as he aspires to be Pope. She fantasises about mounting him as he urges her to let Arden do as he pleases.
Dr Arden and Sr Mary Eunice discuss a presence in the woods. She takes out raw meat and throws it to them. She then encounters Lana and warns her that they must leave quickly. Lana hears something she believes to be some kind of animal.
Arden takes a special interest in Kit and enters his room.
2010 - Teresa rushes to get help for Leo, who's bleeding out fast. She tries to retrieve his phone from the car as hers was the one he tried to use to take a photo earlier on. She finds the front door to the asylum is now locked. She runs to find an alternative route through a hidden tunnel.
1964 - Lana and Sr Mary Eunice escape through hidden tunnels. Lana negotiates having more free reign around the asylum to find Bloody Face. She encounters Spivey, who throws faeces at Sr Mary Eunice. She cries and runs to the powder room. Lana runs into Shelley, who is fellating an orderly. Shelley tells Lana that Kit was sent to solitary. Sr Jude begins angrily patrolling the corridors and nearly catches Lana. Lana finds an empty cell and hides in it but is knocked unconscious by a bloody arm.
Arden explains that his science will prevail despite Sr Jude's disapproval. He begins experimenting on Kit without anaesthetic. He wants to directly examine Kit's brain and asks him what his killing methods are. As Kit is probed (using eye clamps and electrical stimulation), he recalls his abduction. Arden removes a mechanical implant from Kit's neck which unfolds legs and scurries away.
Sr Jude scolds Sr Mary for letting Lana wander the asylum and brings out the paddle to punish her. Sr Mary insists that there is no cane big enough for the sins she's committed. She begs Sr Jude to punish her and bares her backside. Sr Jude orders her away, saying she has no time for her.
Sr Jude visits Wendy and intimidates her into not fighting Lana's commitment to Briarcliff. She threatens to reveal the couple's same sex relationship and that Wendy will lose the job she loves. Sr Jude tells her that Lana has been retained at the asylum to receive treatment for her 'inversion'.
Dr Arden is cleaning a closed solitary cell (the same one where Leo's arm is in the present day). Sr Jude comes in and claims someone has been living in it, a fact that Arden denies.
2012 - Teresa continues running through the tunnels to find help. She encounters the murderous Bloody Face, wearing a skin mask.