From an opening shot of a murky pond being whipped by rain in a driving storm, we quickly zoom in on the pond to wonder what horrific demons could be lurking in this dark water. As much as his image construction, the camera angles and movement are what lends a dreamlike atmosphere to Nicolas Roeg's film.
Donald Sutherland plays an architectural restoration expert who is currently reviewing slides of a church in Venice he is scheduled to restore. While viewing one slide he notices the out-of-place figure of a small person in a red, hooded raincoat kneeling in one of the pews. At the same time, his daughter is playing outside the house by the pond.
While using a magnifying glass to investigate this odd image, he spills water on the slide. Outside the house a foot splashes in a puddle and a bike rides over a pane of glass that we hear breaking. The hooded figure dissolves into a pool on the rest of the slide, and Sutherland strains to find the meaning. His mood goes from curiosity to concern to terror before he finally acts. He runs frantically outside to find his daughter drowned, and as he stands there with her in his arms, wailing at the heavens in slow motion, the camera moves above and around him standing there in that murky pond. We know that the character has psychic abilities, and we're frustrated by his own intense denial and refusal to believe. For this he pays a price.