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On a secluded resort island, concert jazz pianist Tom Stewart finalizes plans to marry his fiancée, young, wealthy Meg Hubbard, who lives there with her parents. A week before the wedding, Tom's scorned ex-lover, nightclub singer Vi Brown, charts a private boat to the island and arranges to meet Tom at a deserted lighthouse, where she threatens to expose their past affair to Meg unless he returns to her. As she argues with Tom, Vi falls through the broken railing at the top of the lighthouse, but manages to grasp the railing, dangling by one hand high above the rocky shore below. When she begs Tom to save her, Tom remains motionless and watches Vi fall to her death. The next morning, Tom finds Vi's body washed up on the shore. After the corpse mysteriously turns into a heap of seaweed, Meg's eight-year-old sister Sandy shows Tom a watch she has found bearing Vi's inscription. Rattled, Tom quietly reminds himself that he did not kill Vi and throws the watch into the ocean. Soon after, Meg finds Tom in the lighthouse and, believing his nervousness is due to his upcoming concert, gives him words of encouragement. As the couple walks along the beach, Tom notices a third set of footprints forming in the wet sand and tries to show the anomaly to Meg, but the tide washes them away. Disturbed by Vi's ghost and wracked with guilt, Tom tells Meg that they should marry immediately. Upset, Meg refuses, noting her family obligations, but Tom insists he must leave the island now regardless of whether they marry first. Later, Tom is practicing at the house when a record starts playing. Tom removes the record from the player, but Vi's invisible presence returns it to the turntable where it plays again. Tormented, Tom breaks the record and then asks his blind real estate agent and neighbor, Mrs. Ellis, if she believes in the spirits of the dead haunting the living. Mrs. Ellis recounts that after a boy and his dog disappeared many years ago on the island, the family left the house. When she then tried to rent it out to three tenants in row, they all refused to stay because of mysterious occurrences such as an unseen dog scratching at the door and wet seaweed found in the missing boy's room. The sage Mrs. Ellis then advises Tom not to run away from his problems. That night, Tom wakes from a nightmare about Vi and goes to lighthouse, where he tells Vi's ghost that he is going to ignore her and marry Meg. The next morning, after Sandy tells Tom that Meg is ready to make up with him, Tom shows her the wedding ring, which Vi's floating hand, unseen by Sandy, grasps and uses to taunt him. Sending Sandy from the room, Tom confronts Vi, then rushes to the beach and embraces Meg. The couple returns to the Hubbards' house, where Meg screams in horror when she finds her dress covered in seaweed. Later, after Mrs. Ellis tells him the seaweed must have an explanation, Tom tells her about Vi's visit to the island, but does not reveal that his ex-lover is dead. Learning from Sandy that Tom spends time at the lighthouse, Mrs. Ellis goes there and, smelling perfume, speaks out loud to Vi, telling her to stop bothering Tom. Mrs. Ellis follows the ghost's cackle to the top of the lighthouse, where Vi tries to trick her into falling through the railing, but Mrs. Ellis manages to escape unharmed. Meanwhile, the island's sole boat operator, Nick Lewis, remembering that Vi was visiting a Tom Stewart, finds Tom and demands that he pay for Vi's return ticket. Desperate to keep the man quiet, Tom pays him. Later at an outdoor café, Lewis overhears that Tom is marrying Meg, realizes that Vi must be Tom's lover and tries to extort $5,000 from him, suggesting that they meet later. The night before the wedding, Tom becomes hysterical when he sees Vi's image in a Polaroid snapshot of him and Meg taken by a photographer at the rehearsal dinner party. Meg cannot see Vi's image, but, concerned, asks Tom if there is another woman. Tom replies that there is no reason to be jealous of a dead woman. On the morning of the wedding at Tom's house, when Vi's disembodied head appears in a basket flowers and calls out repeatedly, "Tom Stewart killed me," Tom throws the head in a cloth and throws it outside, where it lands at Lewis' feet. When Lewis, who has come to blackmail Tom, opens the cloth, he finds a basket of wilted flowers. After Lewis, who has found Vi's medallion, insinuates that Tom murdered Vi and demands money, Tom takes him to the lighthouse, where Vi tells Tom to kill him. Hidden high up in the staircase, Sandy watches as Tom murders Lewis with a blow to the head. Later at the house, Sandy asks Tom if she should keep murder a secret because she loves the person who committed it, but Tom does not understand that she witnessed his brutal act. That afternoon at the wedding, as the minister asks if anyone has just cause why the marriage should not take place, a cold wind blows open the doors, dousing the candles and wilting the flowers, including those in Meg's bridal bouquet, sending the bride screaming from the room. A desperate Tom rushes to the lighthouse, where he promises Vi that he will leave the island without Meg. When Sandy finds Tom and asks why he killed the man, he admits that he could have saved Vi. Now delirious, Tom guides Sandy to the top of the lighthouse, planning to push her off, deliriously lamenting that she was a witness. However, Vi's apparition suddenly appears, startling Tom into falling to his death over the railing. Later, townspeople gather at the shore, where two bodies have washed up together, Tom and Vi, who is wearing Meg's wedding ring.