Angie Anderson (Sharon Stone) is a beautiful young woman who harbours a dark childhood secret - one that has kept her from having meaningful relationships with men. She works as a temporary secretary and spends her evenings at home alone working on her doll collection, the one source of pleasure in her life. One night in her apartment elevator, Angie is brutally attacked by a red-bearded assailant. She fights off the would-be rapist by stabbing him with a pair of scissors. As the man flees he promises to return for revenge. She cowers in a corner immobilised by fear until she is found by Alex Morgan (Steven Railsback), a popular TV soap opera star and neighbour Angie has never met. Alex is immediately taken by Angie's innocence and vulnerability. She allows him to help her, but keeps him at a safe distance, unable to accept his genuine concern and interest in her. He invites her to dinner the following evening, but she refuses. The next morning, Angie relays the events of the night before to her therapist, Dr. Stephen Carter (Ronny Cox). She also confides in him her terror of another possible encounter with her attacker and her fear of involvement with the man who helped her, Alex Morgan.
Alex implores Angie to join him at a party in his apartment. Lonely, and still shaky, she relents. There she meets Alex's brother, Cole (also played by Steven Railsback), a bitter, struggling artist confined to a wheelchair. Crippled by an automobile accident, in which Alex was driving, Cole shares his brother's apartment and lives off his guilt. Cole shows Angie a series of paintings he is working on, including one of her - in the nude. She is horrified by the realisation that Cole has been spying on her from a window across from her apartment.
Angie flees the party in despair. In her hurry, she mistakes a guest in the hallway for the red-bearded man who attempted to rape her. Alex notices Angie's panic and insists on walking her back to her apartment. She reluctantly says okay, but when he tries to kiss her, Angie confesses she is unable to return a man's - any man's - affection. Alex is stunned. Angie's aggravated state of anxiety increases and she begins to think she sees the bearded man everywhere she goes. But Dr. Carter tries to convince Angie that her own panic Is creating the encounters. Her terror is complete when she discovers the red-bearded man laying in a bedroom with a pair of scissors imbedded in his chest. Someone wants her to crack.