A small German port at the turn of the century, nestled in a romantic river landscape with dense woods and a large ruined castle on a hill. Laurin, a pretty girl aged nine, lives together with her young mother Flora in a remote, ivy-clad cottage in the middle of the forest. Laurin's father is a sailor, and is often away for months at a time. One evening, after taking her husband to the harbour, Flora dies on the way home under mysterious circumstances by drowning in the icy water of the river. Flora's death feels like a horrible accident, yet her young daughter feels something evil is concealed in the village community. On the same evening, a young gypsy boy is also killed. As she grows older, Laurin becomes tortured by bizarre dreams and visions. Step by step she realises that her mother and the gypsy boy have fallen victim to a murderer who haunts the castle in the company of a black, wolfish dog. One last vision reveals to Laurin the circumstances of her mothers death, and in frantic despair Laurin attempts to save her life and to defeat the murderer.