Elliot Brindle, a meek salesman, loses his job despite his debt and the people who depend on him: Michael, his mentally handicapped brother; Shelby, his pregnant fiancee; and an unnamed, abusive father. Elliot receives a mysterious phone call that offers him $1,000 to assertively kill a fly that has been harassing him. After Elliot checks his bank account online and sees that he has been credited, he accepts the next challenge: to eat the dead fly. The caller explains that he will be offered a series of thirteen challenges, each of which will result in greater rewards. If he fails to complete any of them, interfere in the game, or reveals the game, he will forfeit all the money.
The next few challenges attract police attention: making a child cry, arson, and scamming a homeless person. When the child identifies Elliot in the police station based on wanted posters, Detective Chilcoat takes over the case. Shelby becomes concerned about Elliot's secretive and odd behavior, and he explains that he is planning a surprise. For his sixth challenge, Elliot is forced to take a corpse out for coffee. Given a strict deadline, Elliot panics and brazenly steals a cup of coffee from a police officer. Elliot is credited with two challenges for his bold behavior after he threatens to file a complaint about the officer's public intoxication.
After he flees the scene, the caller tells Elliot that he has left behind evidence; however, if he wins the game, his record will be purged. At the same time, Chilcoat tracks a conspiracy theorist that has been investigating the game. Paranoid, the man flees Chilcoat but advises him to kill Elliot at his first opportunity. For his next challenge, Elliot receives no instructions and is taken to a rural motel. There, a man identifies himself as a former childhood bully, and the caller tells Elliot to sever the man's arm. Elliot initially refuses but does so once the man taunts him. After driving the man to the hospital, Elliot savagely beats the man's brother, who was also involved in bullying Elliot and Michael, and once urinated on Michael's face. As a result, he is credited with two more completed challenges.
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