The film begins with two young, would-be-lovers in a car at a secluded spot. Another car draws up behind them. The boy goes out to see who it is, believing it is friends playing a prank on them - and he is attacked. The girl, Stacy Twelfmann, locks herself inside the car but opens the door when she hears her boyfriend, Rod Harper, pleading for help - and seals her own fate.
Jody Marken and her boyfriend, Kenny, are parked outside the Marken home, talking about their relationship. They are interrupted when Jody's mother approaches the car and asks for a cigarette before leaving them alone once more. You get the impression that she is drunk. Kenny tells her that he wants to break up as Jody is not interested in taking their relationship one step further by sleeping with him.
A police vehicle draws up and Sheriff Brent Marken steps out to join his deputy. He follows her to where Stacy Twelfmann's bloodied body is bound to a tree. There is a flashback to her murder, emphasising the fact that she died slowly from the brutally inflicted knife wounds.
Jody goes to school, oblivious to the undercurrents. She meets her friend, Timmy, who runs the school newspaper and thinks he is talking about the fact that she has spotted Kenny hugging another girl. When Timmy tells her about the murders she notices the people around her for the first time, seeing the grief.
Sheriff Marken arrives at the high school where both murder victims were students. He goes to the Principal's office and we get the impression that he and Sisler are old acquaintances, perhaps friends once, but who rarely speak to each other now.
The class teacher, Leonard Marliston, starts a discussion on the murder and how everyone feels about it as part of the school's policy of dealing with a trauma of this nature. The class is interrupted when Jody's father, Sheriff Marken, follows Principal Sisler into the classroom. Marken informs them of the murders and asks if anyone has any information that might lead them to the murderer.
Later, in the school dinning area, Annette DeWorlde attacks a boy who has been telling everyone that she has been sleeping around with him. She and the boy are separated by Leonard Marliston.
Annette DeWorlde's parents head off for a evening out dining with friends. Once on her own there is a knock at the door. Annette has been told not to answer the door to anyone but agrees to open it on the latch to take a message from the lady caller. The caller forces their way in.
Hours later the parents return home to find their daughter has been murdered, and nailed to a cartwheel on the ceiling of their lounge.
Sheriff Marken is teaching his daughter some simple but effective self-defence. They end up falling onto the floor but the phone puts an end to the lesson. We see him next in uniform inside the DeWorlde home staring up at the dead girl. Deputy Mina is by his side. They answer questions posed by FBI agents who have been called in: Special Agent Bronhill and Agent Majestik.
Marken goes over to the morgue and speaks to the pathologist. He informs Marken that both female victims were virgin, neither were sexually assaulted in any way. Also, the boy had not been sexually active or assaulted at the time of his death. All three had the word 'virgin' carved into their flesh.
Marken goes home and enters his daughter's bedroom, waking her. He asks, in a round about way, if she is still a virgin - and if she 'could' go further. When she realises that he wants her to lose her virginity she is upset, having thought he would be proud of her keeping her virginity intact. He reassures her that he is proud of her but you can see that he is worried.
The next day:
Marken asks his deputy to set up a town meeting at the high school for all parents of teenagers. Jody has stayed behind at school to talk to her teacher, Marliston. They recite poetry together but she thinks she sees someone loitering just outside the classroom. She and Marliston take a look and Marliston enters the darkened dining area. He does not see anyone and comes back out but the camera pans down to a pair of shoes where someone is hiding in the shadows.
Marken meets Sisler at the door to the gymnasium where the meeting is going to take place. Sisler is against the idea of Marken revealing the fact that the victims had all been virgins. He feels it would be irresponsible and cause a sexual backlash. Marken responds with:
"Get your hands off me. Don't talk to me about responsibilities. We both know what it's like to walk away from those."
Jody, on seeing her father in the school, goes to an area above the gym hall so she can listen in. She is startled by Timmy. When her father addresses the crowd and explains that the murdered is targeting virgins, Jody realises why he had that talk with her. Timmy is excited by it all, especially when the meeting gets out of hand and some of the parents start fighting. He borrows Jody's cellphone so he can make a call to someone and moves off as he cannot get good reception.
When Jody goes after him a little later to retrieve her cellphone, she cannot find him at first. She moves through the locker rooms for the gym, passed the curtained shower stalls. She hears her phone and opens up a locker. Timmy is inside the locker... and he has been murdered. The killer attacks Jody and knocks her unconscious. She is dragged into the biology classroom but awakens when the killer starts to carve the word 'virgin' on her inner thigh. Jody beats the killer off, escapes into the hallways and runs into her father who is leaving the fiasco of a meeting.
Marken pulls his gun and enters the classroom, but the killer has escaped through a window.
At Police Headquarters:
Jody gives a description of her attacker. As the image takes shape, Marken looks more and more concerned. He tells Jody to take a seat in the outer office while he makes a call. He contacts Sisler and sends him a fax of the photofit image of the killer which looks like a woman whose dark hair has a white streak. Jody picks up the extension and listens in on the conversation but Marken looks up and sees she has the phone. He hangs up and goes outside, and confronts her, wanting to know if she was eavesdropping. She makes up some excuse about calling her mother and Marken relents, looking guilty at his outburst.
Her mother arrives soon after and offers to take her home but Jody's best friend arrives and tells her how the kids are planning to make themselves safe by having a huge party to lose their virginity. They go to school instead with Deputy Mina acting as a 'bodyguard'.
Marken drives out to West Virginia to the last known residence of a girl called Loralee Sherman. She moved to a place two hours away from Cherry Falls 25 years earlier but the person described by Jody fits her image. The place is dilapidated, with doors hanging off. He enters the house and goes into the cellar. He discovers a crib down there, old and dirty implying there was a child. He is very uneasy and, as he walks away there is an impression that there was somebody in the house watching him.
He receives a despatch call from his Deputy Mina telling him that Principal Sisler has requested a meeting at the school. The school is empty when he gets there but he heads for the principal's office and finds Sisler. Sisler has been murdered, the corners of his mouth sliced into a grin and the words 'virgin not' carved into his forehead. There is somebody else there who knocks Marken unconscious with a blow to the head.
Jody goes to see Kenny, she tries to get him to make love to her but he stops her. She runs out on him and goes to the library to check on the archives and see if she can find information on a Loralee Sherman. Her mother finds her there and tells her that Loralee Sherman alleged that she had been raped by four young men. One of whom was Principal Sisler, and another had been Jody's father.
Jody goes to see her teacher, Leonard Marliston. She feels that she can talk to him. She helps him drag a trunk into his house to the top of the cellar stairs.
"What's in the trunk?"
Marliston sounds a little weird, starts talking about her father as being a liar, fraud, criminal. He pushes the trunk down the stairs. Jody is frightened and goes down to the trunk. She asks again, "what's in the trunk?"
"Your father. Maybe mine."
Jody opens the lid and discovers that it is her father inside, a single wide piece of duct tape sealing his mouth, his wrists taped. He has blood over his face from the head blow he received in Sisler's office. Marliston knocks Jody unconscious.
Scene changes to the party being held at an old lodge. The kids are slowly pairing off but Kenny decides that he wants Jody so he leaves the party to go searching for her.
When she wakes up she finds she is strapped to a table, and her father is strapped, with leather wrist and ankle bands, to a chair facing away from his daughter but he can see her reflection in a tall, floor-standing vanity mirror.
Marliston has a dresser which holds a long dark-haired wig with a white streak through it. He starts applying make-up and talks. He wants Marken to tell his daughter all about the rape. Jody says she already knows, that the information cannot hurt her. However, Marken is forced to relate the story, how he and three others from the football team were returning from a graduation party when they came across Loralee Sherman. Her car had broken down. They all got out but Marken was so drunk he fell flat on his face in the road. Meanwhile, Sisler and the other two grabbed Loralee, forced her to drink alcohol then tore off her clothes and raped her.
"First Tom, Harry, Jim. Came looking for me, and they grabbed me. Threw me on top of her but I knew what I was doing. God help me. I knew what I was doing." He breaks down and cries. "I knew."
"Big star quarterback Brent Marken." Marliston explains that she only went over to the car as she saw him there. She had a crush on Brent, had written love letters and poems that she had never had the courage to send. When she went to the police they branded her a tramp, refused to prosecute mainly as the boys came from families with good standing in the community whereas Loralee was a nobody. Loralee's family were forced to leave Cherry Falls and nine months later Loralee had a child conceived through that gang rape.
"Very difficult to look like the one person n the world your mother loves and hates the most."
We see flashbacks to a child being beaten by his mother in the grimy crib in a basement.
Marliston re-applies the duct tape so Marken can longer call out and starts to finish the word he was carving into Jody's flesh. The doorbell rings. It is Kenny.
While Kenny is talking to Marliston at the door, Marken manages to topple his chair and smash the mirror. Kenny fights with Marliston and locks him out of his own house. Kenny races down into the cellar and finds Jody and her father. Kenny releases one of Jody's wrists but is told to free her father while she frees herself.
Marliston has grabbed an axe and breaks back into the house. He comes into the cellar but Marken is free. There is a fight which Marken is winning until he is stabbed in the side of the neck. Marliston turns on Kenny and Jody but Marken stabs him in the leg and yells at Kenny and Jody to run.
Marliston raises the axe and brings it down hard on Marken - twice - then chases after the Kenny and Jody. They run to the lodge, try to tell a police officer about the killer but he is murdered by Marliston. There is panic at the party and Deputy Mina is tramples in the rush. Marliston stabs Kenny but Jody manages to thrown Marliston from the balcony. He lands on the wrought iron fencing. When one of the boys gets too close to see if Marliston is really dead, Marliston grabs him by the hair. Mina appears, shoots Marliston dead.
Jody and her mother are being interviewed by the FBI agents.
"So you have absolutely no idea why your father was in West Virginia?"
Note: Neither Jody nor her mother look too upset, in fact, the mother is almost smiling.
They leave the police headquarters and Jody looks along the street and, for a moment, she sees a figure of a woman with long black hair and a white streak. A greyhound bus passes and the figure is gone.