Eric and Amy Bowen are a married couple looking to buy a house for themselves and their three children: 16-year-old daughter Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), 9-year-old son Griffin (Kyle Catlett), and 6-year-old daughter Madison (Kennedi Clements). Eric was recently laid off, but they are shown a house that has recently come on the market that fits their price range, so they purchase it and move in.
The first night, they hear strange noises in the walls and Griffin finds a box containing clown dolls that were left at the house. In the middle of the night, lights and electronic devices start turning on and off, as an unseen force appears to move through the home. The commotion wakes Griffin, and he goes downstairs and finds Maddie talking to an unknown presence inside the television. She tells Griffin someone is coming, and he attempts to unplug the TV, causing the lights to go out of control. Maddie then tells the family “They’re here” while touching their TV screen.
The following evening, Eric and Amy go to dinner with their friends, leaving the three children at home. They learn that their house was built on an old cemetery, although the property developer was supposed to have relocated the human remains. Kendra wakes up to a strange sound in the laundry room. While investigating the noise, the floor cracks and a corpse’s hand emerges. It begins pulling at her foot, but she manages to pull herself up. Meanwhile, Griffin notices the clown dolls seem to be moving by themselves. One clown doll attacks him, but he destroys it with his foot and runs from his bedroom. He finds Maddie in her room, scared, crouching in a corner, and tells her to stay while he goes to find Kendra. Maddie is then lured by the light from her lamp and her favorite toy into her closet, becoming lost in an unending void. As she turns to see her bedroom drifting away further, she is dragged into the darkness by ghosts. Griffin is grabbed through a window by the branches of the old tree outside their house, which pulls him outside. Amy and Eric arrive home to see Griffin being tossed around in the tree branches, which releases its grip when they come close, while Kendra hysterically tells them she cannot find Maddie.
The family hears Maddie’s voice emanating from the television. Amy places her hand on the television screen while Maddie’s static hand is seen to be touching Amy’s hand from the other side of the screen. Amy and Griffin visit the Paranormal Research department for help. The staff set up equipment in the house and install GPS devices on everyone in the house. During the setup, Boyd has a near death experience in drilling a hole in the wall, yanked in by spirits by his arm. While trying to contact Maddie, Eric is ambushed in the closet by a ghost resembling her. Angered, he breaks down the closet wall, throwing a section of a broken table into the darkness inside the closet; the table segment falls back into the living room (nearly crushing Griffin), revealing a potential portal for Maddie to escape through. The investigators deduce and confirm that the haunting is caused by a poltergeist. The lead investigator, Dr. Brooke Powell, decides to call occult specialist and television personality Carrigan Burke (revealed, much later, to be Powell’s ex).
Carrigan explains that Maddie is a possible psychic, able to communicate with spirits. He reveals that the ghosts are trapped and are angry because only the headstones were moved to the new cemetery, but the bodies remain; they plan on using Maddie “to free them from their purgatory”. Carrigan comes up with a plan to get Maddie back. He anchors a rope in Maddie’s room and tosses it into the vortex. They attempt to use Griffin’s toy drone to guide Maddie out, but it is immediately destroyed by the ghosts when inside the portal. Griffin, guilt-ridden over leaving Maddie alone in the first place, goes through the portal himself. When he finds Maddie, the ghosts attempt to destroy the rope to trap them, but Griffin and Maddie grab onto the rope and fall back through the portal into the house. Both children are unconscious and covered in grey matter, to which Carrigan instructs for them to be washed and they awake.
The family get in their car and begin to leave the house, but the ghosts drag them back into the house and attempt to abduct Maddie again, flipping the car in the process. Maddie is seen being abducted up the stairs. The family saves her from being sucked into the portal, and Carrigan decides that as the only other psychic, he must go into the vortex and lead the spirits into the light. Kendra stamps and destroys the television screen as ghosts’ hands are seen, trying to communicate with Maddie. The Bowens flee the neighbourhood as the house is destroyed by the spirits soaring into the sky as a beacon of light. The investigative team run to their equipment, looking for a sign that Carrigan managed to get back.
As the Bowens look for a new house, the realtor shows them a house with lots of closet space and an old tree in the backyard but the Bowens drive away laughing. During the end credits, it is revealed that Carrigan survived the incident and is back filming his ghost program, now hosting the show with Dr. Powell.