When freshman Trixie Stone (Brittany Robertson) accuses her ex-boyfriend Jason Underhill (Jamie Johnston) of raping her, everyone is quick to take his side when he claims their intercourse was consensual. Trixie's parents, Daniel (Ron Eldard), a mild mannered comic book artist from a harsh background, and Laura (Kelly Preston), a college professor of literature sleeping with one of her students, become involved. After questioning Trixie and conducting a blood test it is revealed that Trixie was drugged, and people begin to believe that she was really raped. Jason, whose life is supposedly ruined, leaps from a bridge. Although first presumed to be suicide, Trixie and her father are later suspected of pushing him off the bridge. After the police call Daniel requesting blood samples from him and Trixie to compare to blood found under Jason's fingernails, he attempts to flee with her in his car but is soon stopped by the police, and he then tells Trixie that he was the one who pushed Jason off the bridge.
Daniel is brought in to the police station and confesses to pushing Jason, but is then brought to another room with Laura inside. Laura confesses to Daniel that she was there when Jason died. Jason (who was drunk) and Laura get into an argument as he is standing outside the bridge rails and in the struggle he loses his balance and falls off the bridge. Laura tries to grab him but is unable to pull him up and he falls down leaving scratches on Laura's hands. The police decide not to press charges against Laura and the whole family is released.
The title of the film is based on the notion in Dante's Divine Comedy that hell is divided into nine circles. In one of the final scenes of the movie, Laura, who is teaching the Divine Comedy in college, says that there must be a tenth circle in hell, kept for those who hurt their beloved ones and kept acting as if everything was as usual.