The movie has two main plotlines that proceed in parallel, involving different members of the same family.
Paula (Yohana Cobo)accidentally kills her the man she thinks is her father Paco (Antonio de la Torre) after he tries to molest her. Her mother Raimunda (Penélope Cruz) hides the body in the freezer in a nearby restaurant, which is owned by a friend of hers that has left town and is trying to sell it. A nearby film crew sees her there and asks if the restaurant is open, so she takes over it and becomes a big success. Later, she buries the freezer in her husband's favorite spot.
Raimunda's father died in a fire, with a woman everyone assumed was her mother, Irene (Carmen Maura). After the fire, Raimunda's aunt Tia Paula (Chus Lampreave), went insane, but was still somehow able to keep living alone with only little aid from her next door neighbour Agustina (Blanca Portillo), and, according to the villagers, Irene's ghost. Tia Paula dies the same night Paula killed Paco, and because of that Raimunda sends her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas) to the funeral alone. When Sole returns home, she finds Irene in the trunk of her car, and is convinced that she is a ghost. It turns out that Irene never died. Raimunda and Sole's father was having an affair with Agustina's mother, which Irene knew about and left him. When she later found out that Raimunda's father raped her and that Paula is his daughter (making her both Raimunda's daughter and sister), she started the fire. The woman buried with her husband is Agustina's mother. After hiding for a while in Sole's appartment, Irene is discovered by Raimunda, who she reveals the backstory to. Raimunda then forgives her for not knowing about the incest. In the end, she moves in to take care of Agustina, who has cancer, out of guilt for killing her mother and out of thanks for her devotion to Tia Paula. Both Sole and Agustina still think she is a ghost. Overall, both stories of incest and subsequent murder of the abusing father serve to bring all the women in the family together.