Emile and Juliette Hazel have just purchased what will be their final home, set in a little clearing an hour's drive from the nearest town. Here, they think, is the place for an idyllic retirement, isolated from the rest of the world save for one neighbor, a doctor, on the far side of the clearing. One day, after they have spent a week in the house, the Hazels' new neighbor comes knocking at their door. Narrated by Emile, this simple story of social obligation yields with impending menace to a deeper exploration of the dangerous cost of restraint. With the peculiar logic of a dream, the doctor continues, unbidden, to visit his neighbors daily. And as he does so, the seed of disquiet in the Hazels' parlor bursts into full horror as Emile is forced to come to grips not only with the stranger next door but also with his own inner darkness.