The movie begins with a wife and husband rowing out in a lake during the night time. The husband, John Haloran, ends up suffering a heart attack and dies. Instead of bringing the body back to shore, his wife, Louise, decides to just throw it overboard because she fears that if he is dead, then she won't inherit his family's money. She decides that she will lie to the family about John's whereabouts and just act like he's on a business trip, for she and her husband are set to go and visit the family.
Louise travels to the family castle in Ireland alone. The family is holding their annual ceremony to honor the youngest daughter in the family, Kathleen, who tragically died after drowning in a pond when she was just a child. While there, Louise isn't really interested in honoring the dead, but she is interested in getting that inheritance, so she believes her presence and feign support will get her that cut.
The Haloran family ceremony is only for immediate family members. It is a morbid ritual and the mother always ends up fainting at the end of it. After the ritual is complete and the mother is brought inside to rest, some strange events begin to occur and an ax-murderer is on the loose on the grounds of the castle!
The murders in this movie are surprisingly violet, at least, compared to others that I have seen from that time period. I thought that the story was interesting and I liked the setting. This is Francis Coppola's first feature film and it's pretty cool to see how he started out.