As soon as Seattle Detective John Kanin proposes to his girlfriend, Ruby, she disappears mysteriously. John’s search for her brings him to her home town of Wolf Lake where he finds few allies and many more questions.
In Seattle, a police officer arrives home. Someone is watching him in the dark and when he's nearly undressed, leaps out of the closet. He is detective John Kanin, and this is his girlfriend, Ruby. After sex, she prepares to go out for food, but he proposes to her. She agrees to marry him. They are clearly in love, but hungry, so she goes out to pick up Chinese. When she gets into her car, someone in the back seat starts choking her. John sees the struggle from the upstairs window. By the time he gets down to the street, there is blood in her car as well as the rope the strangler used, with one of his hands still attached. At the police station, his partner and Lieutenant tell him there is no record of a woman named "Ruby Wilder", and jokingly suggest that his girlfriend may be a ghost.
Six months later, John has been doing nothing but working on Ruby's disappearance. When all seems lost, he gets an anonymous call from someone saying she may be in the Wolf Lake area. The next morning John takes off on his motorcycle. After driving into the dark, he encounters a girl in the middle of the road. Someone is following her. He gives her a ride into town.
After dropping the girl off, John goes to "Rendezvous Lodge". It appears to be a hotel, with a pool hall and diner attached. There is no one around but an older man who does a few cheap magic tricks, before introducing himself as Sherman Blackstone. Checking in, the clerk gives him some sheets and sends him to a detached cottage. During the night, he dreams he sees Ruby out behind the cabin. When he wakes up, he looks out the window and sees a white wolf.
The next morning he finds no one recognizes the picture of Ruby. The girl who John picked up is a waitress in the diner, and the sheriff's daughter. He clearly doesn't want the girl, Sophia, to hang out with the other children in the area. He speaks negatively of the people "on the hill". A group of local toughs come into the diner, and one of them has a bandaged hand. John asks the hotel clerk to put up some missing persons signs, and she agrees, but throws them away as soon as he leaves.
The head local tough guy, Tyler Creed, and his one handed henchman, Buddy Hooks, take another man out for a drive in the woods. It seems the man was asked to sell drugs, but told to keep them away from the kids "on the hill". They leave "Fletch" in a remote area. Buddy wants to chase him, but Tyler tells him "give the guy a fighting chance". We see someone with funny vision chase Fletcher and kill him.
At the local high school, John finds a photo of Ruby in her high school graduation robe. Her name is Ruby Cates, and he interrupts the service at the local church to ask for information. Ruby's father, Willard Cates introduces himself, and invites John over for dinner. Willard insists that the people are lying to protect him, because he is the main employer in town. John tells Vivian Cates about seeing the white wolf.
Luke Cates picks up Sophia, but while she sits in the back with a boy named Sean, Luke makes out with his girlfriend in the front seat, watching Sophia in the mirror. Meanwhile the sheriff plays piano in the Lodge. John sees Buddy, and pulls the bandage from his stump revealing an apparently shriveled, deformed hand. Tyler and Vivian are revealed to be having an affair, and when he leaves the lounge, John hears a girl scream. Thinking she is being attacked, he reaches into the car, and pulls Luke Cates off, without noticing his eyes are gold and glowing. The girl has fangs and yellow eyes, but before John can contemplate the meaning of this, someone hits him over the head, knocking him unconscious.
John comes to in the woods, with his gun missing. Someone is watching. The wolf starts chasing him, but John gets his foot caught in an animal trap. The white wolf comes and the other wolves go away. Willard Cates shows up and shoots the wolf with a tranquilizer dart.
The next day at the high-school, John tries to get Sophia to tell him what she was running from when he found her in the street. Sherman is revealed to be the Biology teacher, and is lecturing his class on the importance of pack survival for wolves.