Hungary, at the dawn of the 17th century: Countess Erzebet Bathory (Julie Delpy) is considered the most powerful woman in the country – beautiful, intelligent and unwilling to accept a world in which men may bend and break the rules as they see fit. At a feast she makes the acquaintance of a much younger man, Istvan (Daniel Brühl), and they subsequently fall passionately in love. But her bliss is brief: Istvan’s father, Count Thurzo (William Hurt), forces his son to break with Erzebet, and embarks on an elaborate plan against her. His scheme works: Erzebet assumes she has been rejected on account of the age gap between them and, blinded by yearning and sadness, succumbs to the mad delusion that the blood of virgins will keep her forever young and beautiful. Droves of young women are subsequently brought to the castle, never again to re-emerge. Erzebet becomes visibly more and more demented and obsessed.When she finally realizes she has been the victim of political conspiracy, spearheaded by the father of her beloved, it is already too late.