NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy

The film starts at the Fairchild Estate, where a young woman, Miss Jessel (Denna Thomsen), runs out of the house in terror. She drives to the front of the gate and pries it open, but before she can drive away, she is grabbed by an older man.

The year is 1994. Kate Mandell (Mackenzie Davis) is preparing for her new job as a tutor at the Fairchild Estate to young Flora (Brooklynn Prince). She bids farewell to her roommate Rose (Kim Adis) and goes to visit her mother Darla (Joely Richardson), who lives in a mental institution. Darla spends her time painting but suffers from what is most likely schizophrenia.

Kate drives to the Fairchild Estate and meets the caretaker, Mrs. Grose (Barbara Marten), in the garden. She gives Kate a tour of the house and states that Flora’s brother Miles (Finn Wolfhard) is away at school. Mrs. Grose also explains that the kids’ parents died in an accident just outside the gates, which Flora witnessed. Kate goes to meet Flora in the stables where she is playing with the horses. Flora shows Kate around the grounds and proves to be an eccentric child who is said to never leave the grounds of the estate. She tells Kate that the east wing of the house is forbidden, and she doesn’t want to go there. Flora also mentions Miss Jessel, who was her tutor before Kate, and Flora was upset that she left without saying goodbye.

Later that night after tucking Flora into bed, Kate shuts her window and sees the ghostly image of a woman. She then wanders around the east wing, coming across things like a statue that Flora has of what is said to be her great grandmother. When Kate isn’t looking, the statue moves its head toward her. After several other spooky occurrences, Kate meets Miles, who has come home from school. He comes off as snobbish toward her.

In the morning, Kate finds an old diary that belonged to Miss Jessel. She had documented her time with Flora but also expressed concern for Miles hanging around Peter Quint (Niall Grieg Fulton), the former riding instructor. She joins the kids and Mrs. Grose for breakfast, where Miles apologizes for possibly scaring Kate. When Miles tries to leave and Kate suggests he take his plate to the kitchen, he makes a snide remark about it not being his job, but Mrs. Grose is more than happy to do it as she feels that she knows her place and that Kate should know hers when dealing with people who come from wealth. They then get a phone call from Miles’s school to inform them that Miles has been expelled for violently attacking another student, but Mrs. Grose seems to disregard this.

Kate begins tutoring Flora and asks her about Miles, whom she says is “the best”. Kate tries to build a better relationship with Miles, but he is too reserved and standoffish.

At night, while Kate talks to Rose on the phone, she looks outside the window and thinks she sees one of the kids drowning in the pool. She rushes over and jumps in the water, even thinking she sees a body at the bottom of the water that springs out at her, but it’s really just the creepy statue that the kids used as a prank on Kate, who is not the least bit amused. She then goes to take a bath and sees another ghostly image. When she goes to bed, she feels more of a disturbance, so she leaves the light on. Miles goes into her room and offers to give her horse riding lessons to make up for his behavior.

Kate joins the kids as Miles makes good on his word to teach her how to ride. They then walk together by the koi pond where a bird is eating one of the fish. Miles stomps on its head to put it out of its misery.

The next day, Kate appears disheveled after sleeping poorly due to the continued hauntings. She suggests to Mrs. Grose and the kids that she take them out into town since it’s Saturday, despite the rule about Flora never leaving the grounds. Kate manages to convince them to go, but before they can even reach the gates, Flora freaks out and starts crying, forcing Kate to stop the car so Flora can run out. Miles then menacingly tells Kate he knows what she’s afraid of. He also reasserts his dislike of her, which makes Kate call Rose and express her doubts in herself over the job. She later goes to find Flora and apologizes for not listening to her earlier, and the girl forgives her.

Kate attempts to go reconcile with Miles, but he continues acting bratty. She asks Mrs. Grose if Miss Jessel left because of Miles, but she says it was because of Quint. He had an unhealthy obsession with her and drove her away. He later died after riding his horse drunk. Quint was also a bad influence on Miles, frequently taking him out of the house. Kate later reads more of Miss Jessel’s diary and reads the disturbing entries on Quint, even finding pictures he took of her while she slept.

During a lesson, the kids ask Kate to play Flashlight Tag with them. As she goes looking for them, she ends up in the basement where Miss Jessel’s ghost finds her and gets her flashlight. Kate thinks this is another prank from Miles, but he is upstairs having a snack with Flora and Mrs. Grose.

Kate receives artwork from Darla. She later talks to her on the phone, and Darla sounds delusional, claiming that “they” are trying to get her out before someone appears to approach her. Mrs. Grose comments that hopefully whatever Kate’s mother has is not genetic.

Later on, Kate is once again found by Miss Jessel’s ghost. She leads her to the pond outside where her body is kept. Kate is also forced to see a horrifying vision of Quint raping Miss Jessel. She goes to tell Mrs. Grose about her discovery, but it seems as though she already knew everything and allowed Quint to die. His ghost then appears and pushes Mrs. Grose over the stair banister to her death. Kate rushes to get the kids and convinces them to leave the estate with her.

We then cut back to just after Mrs. Grose made the comment on Darla’s condition. Kate is in disbelief and starts to ask Flora if she sees Quint’s ghost since she just saw her looking in the mirror. When she tries to get Flora to go with her, she accidentally breaks her favorite doll. Flora is upset and goes with Miles, who mockingly tells Kate she is crazy. Kate then sits and wonders if she really is crazy.

The last scene shows Kate in what appears to be a cell of a mental institution, where she sees herself being attacked by a vision of Darla.

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Kate Mandell takes a job as a tutor for Flora Fairchild, who lives with her disturbed brother Miles and housekeeper Mrs. Grose on their parents' estate. Although Kate tries to open up to the kids, Miles makes things difficult for her with his behavior.

Kate starts to see ghostly visions at night. She learns that the former tutor, Miss Jessel, was tormented and ultimately raped and killed by the former riding instructor, Quint. He later died while riding his horse drunk. Their ghosts haunt Kate until she learns the truth about Miss Jessel.

Kate looks as though she has taken the kids away, but this was just a vision in her head, and it is ultimately left ambiguous as to whether or not Kate was imagining everything or if she really was being haunted.