Police detective Harry Siegal is beating Rory Bemell, a kidnapper, and demanding the location of Matthew, a senator's son. Rory finally breaks and tells Harry that the boy is upstairs, locked away. Harry frees the boy, who is fine. Afterward, Harry's fellow officers congratulate him but his boss warns him that there'll be in investigation. Unconcerned, Harry goes over to see Rory, who is being treated by medics and dying of his injuries. Before he can pass away, Rory grabs Harry and says that the cop won't forget what happened.
Harry meets with the IAD investigator who goes over Harry's record. Harry has a record of brutality toward suspects, and yet he's never fired his gun in the line of duty. Harry explains it as self-control. The investigator, unimpressed, tells Harry that he'll have to do a hundred hours of community service, and lose his badge and pension.
Fifteen years later, Harry has changed his last name to Bender and works as a private detective. He and his partner James work divorce cases and get the goods on a husband cheating on his wife. They then turn around and blackmail the wife as well when they record her affair. As James heads out for the day, Harry notices that he has a pistol and tells him never to carry it again. After James leaves, Harry is left to drink in his office and look at the citations and headlines he earned as a cop.
The next day, Harry meets with Meredith Kane, a social worker who wants Harry to find evidence that her husband Jack is cheating on her. She says that he brings women home when she's gone in the evening, but wants Harry to set up in a vacant house across the street to avoid notice. Harry agrees and drives by the vacant house. He looks it over and drives off… unaware that someone is watching him from an upstairs window.
That night, Harry sets up his surveillance equipment in the house while James parks down the street out of sight in their van. While he checks out the house, Harry sees graffiti on the walls of white-faced black-robed figures standing around a pentagram and screaming in terror. Nobody seems to be in Meredith's house until Harry picks up voices talking about someone beating them. A light goes on in the second story window, but James doesn't see anything. The voices cut out but then start inside the house. Using his parabolic mike, Harry tries to track them down and stumbles across a kid who says that he's there on the dare, and the house killed four kids four years prior.
Harry kicks the kid out and goes back to surveillance. He hears a man and woman on the second floor of Meredith's house and hopes to record something incriminating, but they start talking about… Harry, and how he burned the woman with cigarettes. Startled, Harry slips on some blood on the floor that wasn't there before, and runs into the room with the graffiti figures. As he looks on, one of them moves slightly.
Harry meets with Meredith to return the money and take himself off the case. She begs for his help, saying she can listen if he has a problem. Harry admits that he's done bad things in the past but Meredith says that everyone mistakes. She had a brother who made some mistakes, but their father said that they could only redeem themselves tomorrow.
Harry agrees to continue with the case and has James go over the video he took on surveillance. James doesn’t come up with anything and figures Harry was either dreaming or drunk. As Harry watches Meredith's house, the living room lights come on and he sees two boys watching Howdy Doody
on an old black-and-white TV. Looking to an upstairs window, he sees a figure with a knife coming down the stairs. Harry runs across the street and busts through the door, only to find that the house is empty and for sale. Confused, he goes outside and sees a man watching him from the room he was in. Running in, Harry uses night-vision goggles and sees traces of blood and a man who runs away. Harry finally corners the man who reveals he's… Rory. Rory disappears in a flare of light, revealing a door. Harry steps through and finds himself in a quiet house in the 1950s. There's a carton of spilled milk on the counter with a picture of a missing boy: the older boy that Harry saw in Meredith's house. Harry recognizes the boy and runs back through the door in horror. He sees a man driving nails into his own mouth, a man who recognizes Harry.
Harry backs away and Rory confronts him, asking "Why are you so bad?" Harry insists that he only hurts people who deserve it. Rory says that the girl Harry burned for information was innocent. Harry finds himself back in the 1950s house and walks into the living room where the two bys are watching Howdy Doody
. The older one takes the younger brother to their father's bedroom and shows him the gun that their dad, a cop, owns. The older boy, Max, dares the younger one to hold it. He does and they start playing Lone Ranger, but the young boy shoots Max with the loaded gun and kills him. Their father, the man with the nails that Harry saw, comes into the room and addresses the younger boy as "Harry." He insists that they have to cover up the shooting and swear never to tell anyone what happened.
Back in the vacant house, Rory explains that the house "made" the four dead kids understand, as Harry looks at the graffiti figures. There's a new painting, of Harry cutting his own throat. Rory insists that Harry needs to find piece, and Harry starts to cut his own throat… then notices that there are now only three figures. He remembers that Meredith had a scar on her throat and realizes that she set the whole thing up.
An angry Harry goes to the van where James is watching, and he uses a police contact to track down Meredith's billing address. He drives to the apartment she lives at and tells James to call the police if he doesn't return in ten minutes. Inside, Meredith is loading a gun and saying she'll do what she has to. She puts the gun aside and starts to call Harry just as he breaks in. He asks her why she tried to set him up and she explains that Rory was her brother. She and three other kids went into the house, which shows you the one thing you can't live with. Rory managed to protect her, but after he died the house offered to let her see Rory again if she brought it Harry. She accuses of Harry of being dead already, and he remembers back to when he and his father concealed Max's body and made it appear that he ran away.
Harry insists that it wasn't his fault and stops Meredith from shooting him. He takes the gun but refuses to kill her, saying he's going to change things. He starts to lower the gun… and James bursts in and shoots the gun, thinking he's going to kill Meredith. As James collapses sobbing over his partner's corpse, Meredith laughs in triumph.
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