The ten year-old Angela and her little sister Ellie move to an old house in the countryside with her parents Mae and Andrew. Their mother has mental illness and has just left an institution and her husband tries to keep the dysfunctional family together. Angela is an imaginative disturbed girl that might have inherited the illness of her mother and is obsessed by purification to get rid of her sins; and has visions of the fallen angel Lucifer and the Virgin Mary. She leads her little sister in her paranoia and uses a circle of toys and dolls to protect them against evil. They have a crazy neighbor that Angela believes is an angel and she asks the woman how to find the way to heaven. When Mae returns to the institution, Angela becomes uncontrollable in her quest to heaven.
A ten year old girl named Angela leads her six year old sister, Ellie, through various regimens of 'purification' in an attempt to rid themselves of their evil, which she believes to be the cause of their mother's mental illness. Precocious, to say the least, Angela has visions of Lucifer coming to take her and her sister away, and one of her remedies for this is for them to remain within a circle of their dolls and toys until they see a vision of the virgin Mary come to them. But such thinking can only lead to an ending befitting of her own mental state.
- Ten-year-old Angela (Miranda Rhyne), her six-year-old sister, Ellie (Charlotte Eve Blythe), and their parents Mae (Anna Winger) and Andrew (John Ventimiglia) move into a new house. It is clear that Mae and Andrew, former musicians who have left the business, seem to be having marriage problems. Mae also appears to be slipping into mental illness as her mood swings from depression to manic happiness.
Angela believes the reason for her mother's bad moods is the girl's sins. She comes up with stories and magical rituals designed to purify herself and Ellie so that her mother will become well. She creates these rituals by snatching pieces of different religions and folk stories she has heard and tries to assemble them into something that makes sense to her. (Typical of these rituals is sitting in the circle of toys watching for the Madonna or heading down to the local pond to bath naked and cover themselves in mud) She has a vision of Lucifer (Peter Facinelli) as a beautiful winged angel on top of her bedroom dresser and fears he will take Ellie and herself to hell.
Her father is forced to commit her mother to a hospital after she attempts suicide. In order to watch the girls during the day while he works he engages the services of a pregnant, but unmarried, teenager named Darlene (Hynden Walch). Darlene takes the girls back to her parent's house, but suddenly goes into labor and Angela and Ellie slip out of the house during the confusion.
Angela then takes her sister on a journey through the neighborhood looking for signs that will lead them to heaven. As they meet people in the neighborhood Angela pronounces them either to be bad or good angels. She thinks the good angels will help the girls find the way to heaven.
By evening the children reach a local carnival where they run into a child molester (Henry Stram). Angela pronounces him a good angel and eagerly follows him to a secluded location where he kisses her. Her willingness to do anything he commands, however, spooks him and he takes off without hurting the children.
The girls find their way back home that night to an upset father. He is angry at Angela, but also realizes that part of the problem is that he has not been around for her. He tells her the next day they will do whatever she wants and is perplexed when she chooses to be baptized at a church service run by the a local preacher (Vincent Gallo) held at a nearby river. Angela sees this as another way to cleanse herself of sin and get her mother back.
Andrew and the girls go to visit Mae at the hospital, but Mae is angry at Andrew for committing her and refuses to talk to him. The visit is cut short to the disappointment of the girls.
Angela thinks she has finally found a way to cleanse she and Ellie of sin and takes her sister down to the river where she was baptized. The girls submerge themselves in the water, but Angela, in her enthusiasm to get herself clean of sin, goes too deep and is swept away by the current and drowns as Ellie watches. Ellie, watching her sister from the river, suddenly and inexplicably, finds herself magically levitating in the air. The film ends.