Stefan Chilton, the son of an aristocratic British family who was raised in the United States, is traveling with his newly-wed wife, Valerie, through Europe. The couple check into a grand hotel on the Ostend seafront in Belgium, intending to catch the cross-channel ferry to England, where Stefan's mother lives. Valerie notices that Stefan is reluctant to phone his mother, who is unaware of the couple's marriage. Because it is winter, the hotel is empty aside from Stefan and Valerie. At nightfall, a mysterious Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Báthory, arrives in a Bristol driven by her "secretary," Ilona. Elizabeth requests the royal suite, but the hotel's middle-aged concierge, Pierre, tells her it is occupied by the honeymooning couple. He also remarks having seen the countess at the same hotel when he was a child, and observes that she has not aged. Elizabeth takes the adjoining suite, and appears fixated on the young couple. In their suite, Valerie reads a local newspaper article about a series of child murders in Bruges, each a girl whose throat was slashed.
While walking through the city the following day, Valerie and Stefan stumble upon a newly-found crime scene of another murdered girl. Valerie is disturbed by Stefan's fascination with the crime. Back at the hotel, Elizabeth and Ilona acquaint themselves with Stefan and Valerie in the hotel lobby. During their conversation, a police officer appears at the hotel, and makes vague reference to having known Elizabeth years prior. She remains evasive to him. Elizabeth subsequently explains that she is a descendant of Erzsébet Báthory, and was named for her. She recounts the various violent acts that Bathory committed, particularly the murder and mutilation of young girls, whose blood she bathed in. Valerie is revulsed by the conversation, but Stefan appears to be sexually aroused by it.
Later, Stefan beats Valerie in their hotel room, culminating in sadomasochistic sex. The next day, Ilona seduces Stefan when Valerie attempts to leave Ostend. Elizabeth stops Valerie from leaving, and the two women spend the evening together discussing Valerie and Stefan's relationship. Elizabeth dissuades Valerie from remaining with Stefan, warning her that he will treat her as a mere subservient. Meanwhile, Stefan attempts to tease Ilona in the bathroom, and attempts to pull her into the shower. The two get into a tussle and slip and fall, with Ilona slashing her hand on a razor and fatally hitting her head in the process. Valerie and Elizabeth return moments after, stumbling upon the scene. Elizabeth helps Valerie clean up the blood while Stefan sits in shock, and the three subsequently drive into the country to dispose of Ilona's corpse.
After burying Ilona's body on the beach, the three return to the hotel at dawn. Valerie, under Elizabeth's spell, refuses to leave with Stefan. A violent fight ensues, during which Stefan's wrists are slashed by a broken bowl. As Stefan bleeds to death, Elizabeth and Valerie drink the blood pouring from his wounds. Just before dawn, they throw his corpse, wrapped in plastic, over a guardrail and onto a street below. The women flee in Elizabeth's car, Valerie driving at a high speed to cross over the border to Belgium. Elizabeth insists that she not be caught in daylight. While speeding on a dense forest road, the women are blinded by sunlight, and Valerie loses control of the car, crashing. Elizabeth is thrown from the vehicle and impaled through the heart on a broken branch before her body is lit on fire by the car's subsequent explosion.
Several months later, Valerie approaches a young couple playing tennis at a resort, preying on them just as Elizabeth did to her and Stefan.
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