Charles Condomine, a successful novelist, arranges for an eccentric medium, Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his house where she inadvertently summons his first wife, Elvira, who has been dead for seven years. Only Charles can see or hear Elvira, and she makes continued desperate efforts to disrupt Charles's current marriage. She finally sabotages his car in the hope of killing him so that he will join her in the spirit world, but it is Ruth rather than Charles who drives off and is killed.

Ruth's ghost immediately comes back for revenge on Elvira, and though Charles cannot at first see Ruth, he can see that Elvira is being tormented, and his house is in uproar. He calls Madame Arcati back, but instead of exorcising them, she materialises Ruth. With both his dead wives now fully visible, and not in the best of tempers, Charles and Madame Arcati go through séance after séance and spell after spell to try to exorcise them, and at last she succeeds. Madame Arcati hints that the ghosts may still be around unseen and warns him that he should go far away as soon as possible. Charles leaves at once, and the unseen ghosts throw things and destroy the room as soon as he has gone.