A Dutch couple, Rex Hofman (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia Wagter (Johanna
ter Steege), are on a cycling holiday in France. Their car runs out of
gas and they are stranded inside a tunnel. They quarrel for a while,
but make up and eventually get going again.
Later they stop at a gas station. Here Saskia goes into the shop for
drinks and never returns. Rex waits, getting more worried and nervous
by the minute as Saskia does not emerge. He soon starts to question
people if they have seen her, but no one has any idea as to where she
is. The only clue he has is a blurred photo he took of the surrounding
area, in which he can just barely make out her red hair in a group of
people next to the gas station entrance.
Rex can not accept his loss and three years after her vanishing he
still compulsively looks for her. He has a new girlfriend, but she is
so fed up with his obsession to understand Saskia's ultimate fate that
she leaves him. His quest even results in him explaining her story on
In a series of intermittent flashbacks, Raymond Lemorne
(Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), a respectable, though quirky, middle-class
chemistry teacher, the kidnapper of Saskia, appears both alone and
with his family, intricately plotting and planning his scheme to
capture a random woman and murder her.
Eventually, Raymond, fascinated by Rex's fanatical compulsion to know
what happened to Saskia, confronts Rex and admits to her kidnapping.
He explains that he felt the need to test himself, to know whether he
deserved others' high opinion of him, by finding out whether he could
commit what for him was the ultimate act of evil. Rex's ultimate
curiosity concerning Saskia keeps him from killing Raymond, which
Raymond is fully aware of. Raymond finally invites Rex to the very
same park and gas station where Saskia disappeared, and simply tells
Rex that if he drinks a cup of coffee, supposedly spiked, he will know
what happened to Saskia. After tormenting himself in indecision, Rex
eventually drinks the concoction, falls unconscious, and wakes up to
the final scene of Raymond burying him alive. For Raymond, a
claustrophobe, this is the ultimate crime.