Matthew Macfadyen plays Gabriel, a preacher who returns to Middletown, the place of his birth and childhood memories, after a long absence, only to find that things are not as they used to be. His brother’s wife runs the town’s local drinking den, and there are nightly cock–fights and regular scuffles. As far as Gabriel is concerned, the town’s inhabitants have given over to vice and sin, and only he can save them.
But Gabriel’s intentions mask a dark and malevolent heart, and with a religious zeal, he pits neighbour against neighbour, threatening to disrupt the familial harmony that has existed up until now. Even Gabriel’s family are not free from attack and his brother Jim (Daniel Mays) and his wife Caroline (Eva Birthistle) are the first to suffer his anger.
Middletown develops into a life or death struggle between Jim and Gabriel, and in a powerful and emotional climax, it threatens to destroy everything that each stands for, engulfing Middletown in a battle with fatal consequences.