A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage, but nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.
- Chapter One: Grief
At the child's funeral, She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) collapses and spends a month mostly unconscious in the hospital. When she wakes, She is crippled with grief and He (Willem Dafoe), a therapist, takes it upon himself to talk his wife through the grief process. He has her flush her prescribed medication down the toilet. After a less-than-fruitful time of catharsis at home, during which She tries to hide the pain with sex, He decides exposure therapy will be effective. She tells him that she is most afraid at a cabin in the woods at which she spent time alone with Nic (Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm) the previous summer, whilst writing a thesis on gynocide. The couple travel to Eden, the cabin. During the journey He sees a deer which is in mid-stillbirth - a calf is protruding from its rear end.
Chapter Two: Pain (Chaos Reigns)
When at the cabin, She again attempts to have sex with her husband. He does not comprehend her fear of the natural world and tries to solve her fears with psychotherapy, despite their relationship creating a conflict of interest. She becomes increasingly manic and grief-stricken. Meanwhile, the natural world surrounding the cabin continually proves itself to be forbidding and nihilistic; acorns pelt the cabin like gunfire, and at one point He comes across a self-disembowelling fox which seems to utter the words, "Chaos reigns". He begins to understand his wife's fear of nature: that the nihilism seen in nature is just as present in humanity.
Chapter Three: Despair (Gynocide)
While searching the cabin, He finds materials studied by his wife for her thesis: pictures of witch-hunts and a scrapbook filled with articles and notes on misogynist topics, in which her handwriting becomes more illegible as the pages go on. She, due to intense self-blame over Nic's death, comes to embrace the belief that women are inherently evil. He confronts her with Nic's autopsy report, which states that the bones in both of his feet were distorted. In a toolshed, He finds photographs of Nic, in which his boots are regularly on the wrong feet. She attacks her husband mid-coitus in the shed, crushing his genitals with a block of wood. While He is unconscious, She masturbates him until he orgasms, ejaculating blood onto her shirt and face. She then drills a hole through his calf, and bolts a heavy millstone to his leg. She flees outside leaving him unconscious in the shed, throwing the tool She used to tighten the millstone under the cabin.
He wakes up and drags himself away, finding a foxhole in which to hide. While She frantically searches for him, He finds a crow buried alive, which makes noise upon waking, giving away his hiding place. He beats it repeatedly but it survives. She finds him and tries burying him alive, but digs him up several hours afterwards.
Chapter Four: The Three Beggars
During a confrontation in the house, She takes a pair of scissors and performs a clitoridectomy upon herself, and curls up on the floor in agonizing pain.
During the night the couple are visited by "the 3 Beggars" (a deer who represents grief, a fox who represents pain and a crow who represents despair) and acorns again beat against the roof of the cabin. Hearing the crow underneath the floor board, he breaks through the floor of the shed, discovering the tool with which to release the millstone from his leg, and then strangles his wife, killing her. He burns the body outside the cabin on a pyre, which was shown upon his arrival at the cabin.
He makes his way from the cabin, finding a patch of berries along the way and eats the berries from the ground. Upon reaching the top of a hill, he turns around and sees "the 3 Beggars" (deer, fox and crow) behind him slowly fading away until completely gone. He looks down to see hundreds of women rushing up the hill towards him, their faces white and blurred. [D-Man2010]