Teenager Meg Morgan lives with her adoptive father Pete and his sister Ellen on an isolated farm surrounded by Ox Head woods, which for all her life she has been forbidden to enter. When Meg brings home schoolmate Nath Storm to help Pete, who has a wooden leg, on their farm, Pete warns Nath not to enter the woods. Nath defies him, and while walking home, he is knocked out by a man in the dark. Suspicious of Pete's preoccupation with Ox Head, Nath and Meg explore the woods with Nath's girl firend, Tibby Rinton. Pete reacts with rage and threatens to whip Meg if she ever enters the woods again. As Pete becomes increasingly jealous of Meg's affection for Nath, Meg begins to fear Pete, and Nath takes a job at the Rinton farm. Pete, meanwhile, tells Teller, a local drifter, to use no restraint in keeping people out of the woods. Tibby, meanwhile, leaves Nath for Teller. One day Teller catches Meg exploring the woods and shoots at her, and in a panic, she falls and breaks her leg. Nath rescues her, and later is ordered off the property by Pete. Pete then enters Meg's room and calls her "Jeanie." When Meg confesses this to Ellen, she confronts Pete about his strange behavior, warning him not to become possessive of Meg, as he did with Meg's mother, Jeanie. Ellen, who for years has been in love with the town doctor, Byrne, sacrificed a life of happiness to take care of Pete after he nearly went insane following an incident at the red house in Ox Head woods fifteen years earlier. Determined to save Pete and Meg from the past, Ellen goes to burn down the woods, and with it, the red house and its adjacent icehouse. Planning only to frighten Ellen, Teller inadvertently shoots her. Meg hears the gunshot and runs to Ellen, but Pete, who is beginning to lose his mind, refuses to help, telling Meg that she and Ellen are being punished for "defying the red house." Although Meg calls Nath for help, Ellen dies before he arrives. Meanwhile, Teller has convinced Tibby to elope with him that night, and they flee in her father's truck. Meg returns to the house with Nath, who takes Pete's rifle and goes after Teller after calling the sheriff. Afraid that Nath will kill Teller, Meg begs Pete to help, and he confesses to murdering Meg's parents in the red house after her father threatened to take her and her mother away. The bodies of Meg's parents, he explains, lie beneath the icehouse in a sunken surrey. Although Meg is horrified, she offers Pete absolution in exchange for saving Nath, unaware that the police have already arrested Teller. When Meg and Pete arrive at the red house, Pete begins calling her "Jeanie." Then, as Nath and the sheriff are heard outside and Meg screams for help, he covers her mouth in the same way he did before accidentally suffocating Jeanie. Nath rescues Meg, and the sheriff pursues Pete as he flees in his car. Pete drives into the icehouse, then drowns. As his car sinks, a wheel from the surrey floats to the surface. Later, Meg and Nath start a new life together.