When it seems an evil folklore character begins killing people in a rural town during Christmas week, a young, inexperienced sheriff with his job on the line tries to stop him.
The first murder in the town's history occurs Christmas Eve, when a retired judge is garroted with a string of Christmas lights. It is followed by another grisly murder the day after Christmas when a prominent doctor is beheaded.
Geoff thinks at first the motive is robbery since the victims presents are also taken, but that and other clues slowly point to the bizarre theory that the murders may really be the work of a green-robed, snaggle-toothed folklore creature named Belsnickle, who legend says comes to life during the Christmas holidays to reclaim Santas presents.
When the town's most prominent citizen, a state senator is found flayed alive in a smokehouse,the once sleepy town is hurled into the national spotlight.
Tabloid journalists descend on the town and hold Geoff up to ridicule for his Belsnickle theory. The town council wants Geoff's job, the governor puts pressure on him to solve the murders, and to make matters worse,Belsnickle himself taunts Geoff and his family at night by phone.
As the murders continue,Geoff becomes so obsessed with restoring his reputation and capturing Belsnickle, that he forgets the safety of his own family until one day Belsnickle kidnaps them, and Geoff must rescue them in a fight to the death with Belsnickle amid the boiling vats of a slaughterhouse.
Tim Blake Nelson
No Country for Old Men