Senior college student Katie Burke (Holmes) is struggling to deal with the stress of completing her thesis and succeeding in an upcoming rigorous interview process. To make matters even more complicated, Detective Wade Handler (Bratt), a recovering alcoholic, reopens the two-year-old police investigation into the disappearance of her boyfriend, Embry Larkin (Hunnam). An orphaned young man of considerable means, Embry had purchased two tickets to Crete before his disappearance; the tickets had never been used and Embry's financial assets had not been touched since his disappearance. With the official reopening of the Larkin case, however, Katie begins to see Embry lurking around campus, seemingly stalking her.
Reporting this back to Detective Handler, who dismisses her as he believes Embry to be dead, Katie is not convinced but nevertheless returns to school. Falling asleep in the college library while studying, upon waking she finds a number carved into the wood of the desk. Upon investigation, she discovers it references a library book: The Inferno. There she finds Embry staring back at her from the other side of the book stack.
Confiding these troubling events to her friends, most notably her roommate Samantha (Deschanel), Katie learns that during her relationship with Embry, he had acted extremely jealous and even violent toward another of Katie's admirers, Harrison (Mann), for whom Katie held only platonic feelings. Shortly thereafter, Harrison seemingly disappears from campus. Convinced that Embry is responsible, Katie confronts him at a local restaurant, only to be asked to meet him at his family's country house.
Once at the Larkin family's country house, however, a violent confrontation ensues between Katie and Embry. Fleeing from the house and finding comfort in Handler, Katie begins an affair with the detective which spurs her to complete her thesis. With Handler closing the investigation, citing that Embry Larkin was indeed alive, and resigning from his job as a detective, he and Katie plan on temporarily retreating to Handler's cabin in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, however, Handler learns from a forensic expert that a note which had supposedly only recently been written by Embry to Katie was, in fact, two years old.
Waiting for Handler on campus, Katie is once again attacked by Embry, who promises to find her wherever she goes before running off. Informing Handler of her encounter with Embry, Katie asks him if the two of them can just leave, but Handler insists on putting a stop to Embry's threats. Following Katie's direction to where Embry ran off, Handler and Katie venture into Embry's former dormitory, which is now abandoned due to the building's derelict structure. As they walk into one of the building's old tunnels, a former spot for Katie and Embry's trysts, Katie begins to interact with Embry, but Handler sees no one.
Through flashbacks, Katie and Embry have been in the same location two years prior, with Embry cruelly breaking up with her and calling off their planned trip to Greece. It is subsequently revealed that as a repercussion of her father's abandonment of her at a young age, Katie possesses severe psychotic tendencies surrounding abandonment. Distraught over Embry's disposal of her, Katie picks up a rock and strikes him from behind repeatedly, killing him.
Attempting to reason with Katie before telling her she can not come with him to New Hampshire, Handler takes notice of something at the bottom of the water. Realizing that it is the skeleton of Embry Larkin, Handler is suddenly struck from behind and falls into the water, echoing Embry's murder two years prior. The epilogue reveals that the dormitory is to be demolished for the construction of a new structure on the site, thus cementing the permanent disappearance of Embry Larkin and Wade Handler.
Katie Burke, is graduated, and finally possesses the job she has always wanted. A co-worker informs her that he has been promoted and that their relationship must end; a familiar look passes over Katie's face.Katie Holmes as Katie Burke
Benjamin Bratt as Wade Handler
Charlie Hunnam as Embry Larkin
Zooey Deschanel as Samantha Harper
Fred Ward as Lieutenant Bill Stayton
Mark Feuerstein as Robert Hanson
Melanie Lynskey as Mousy Julie
Philip Bosco as Professor Jergensen
Gabriel Mann as Harrison Hobart
Will McCormack as August
Gabrielle Union as Amanda Luttrell
Tony Goldwyn as Dr. David Schaffer
The film opened at #7 at the U.S. box office, taking $5,064,077 in its first opening weekend.
Reception was largely negative. Rotten Tomatoes judged the film to have a 17% "rotten" critical approval rating, summarizing critical opinion in saying that the plotline is "disjointed and muddled". On Metacritic, the film's score is 36/100 based on 26 reviews, indicating generally unfavorable reception. Variety magazine described it as "a tricked-up Fatal Attraction wannabe".