Married couple Barbara and Adam Maitland live in Winter River, Connecticut, in an idyllic country home, which real estate agent Jane Butterfield, Barbara's pushy cousin, pressures them to sell. Returning from a trip to the hardware store, they swerve to avoid a dog and their car plunges off a bridge and into the river. Back at home, they cannot remember driving there, and have no recollection of the accident. Adam attempts to leave the house, and finds himself in a strange desert, inhabited by monstrous sand-worms. He quickly returns to the house, where they find a book titled Handbook for the Recently Deceased, and realize they drowned in the crash and are spirits trapped in their house.