Three armed men, one of them a priest, are out hunting in the woods. The prey they are after is under their very feet: a man, unshaven and sordid, who sleeps in an underground dug-out of his own making. Borgman has just woken up when his attackers stick a spear into the ground that narrowly misses his face. He manages to get away and warns his followers who are hiding in similar haunts. They disappear in various directions.
Borgman walks through the green avenues of a wealthy neighbourhood. He rings the bell at a large villa and asks the housewife who opens the door if he might have a bath. She shuts the door in his face without hesitation.
At another villa Borgman is faced with Richard, a young television producer. When he, too, is about to close the door, Borgman claims that Richard’s wife Marina once nursed him in the past. Although Marina, when also at the door, denies knowing Borgman, Richard cannot control his jealousy and aggression, and ruthlessly lays into the tramp. He then pushes his startled wife back into the house. Borgman remains lying on the lawn, unconscious. When Marina comes out of the house, intending to look after the wounded man, Borgman has vanished.
The couple’s three children, Isolde (6), Leo (7) and Rebeccan (9), come home from school with their nanny Stine. Richard goes to his work where there’s a crisis going on. Marina is upset all evening. Feeling ill at ease she wanders through the house. When she discovers that the wounded Borgman is hiding inside the house she allows him to have a bath and - without letting her husband know – arranges a place for him to sleep in the summer house in the garden. When Stine comes across the stranger by chance Marina tells her to keep his presence a secret.
The next day Richard tries to make up with his wife for his behaviour with an expensive diamond necklace. Isolde insists that she has seen a magician but nobody listens to her. And Borgman doesn’t seem to want to leave.
Marina’s world of plenty is beginning to crumble; her reality and her emotions are at the mercy of the stranger in her house, while her husband Richard haunts her dreams at night in the shape of a cruel monster.
Two emaciated dogs slink through the house, but Borgman dismisses them peremptorily: “You have come too soon,” he says. In the night, when Stine and the parents are asleep, he tells the children a story about a white child that floats above the clouds.
He gets rid of the gardener and summons his followers.
The time has come!