Upon acquiring a mysterious book in which the number 23 seems to take on powerful cosmic significance, a once-sane man gradually becomes obsessed with the idea that the frequently recurring number may in fact hold a deadly secret in this intense mystery-thriller starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen, and directed by Joel Schumacher
. Walter Sparrow (Carrey) is a middle-aged dogcatcher whose wife Agatha (Madsen) has bestowed him with an obscure mystery novel detailing the investigation launched by a tough-talking gumshoe named Fingerling (also Carrey) whose every move seems to be overshadowed by the enigmatic eponymous number. After noting a series of alarming parallels shared between the fictional detective and himself, Walter is quickly drawn in to the story as the hard-boiled private investigator murders raven-wigged moll Fabrizia (also Madsen) and pins the crime on her unsuspecting lover (Danny Huston). Back in the real world, fiction seems to merge with reality as Walter and Agatha's close friend Isaac (also Huston) begins to ingratiate himself ever deeper into the couple's relationship and Walter begins experiencing a gruesome series of visions in which he violently murders an unfaithful Agatha. His mind fast descending into a dark and violent whirlwind of madness, Walter enlists the aid of Agatha and the pair's adolescent son Robin (Logan Lerman
) in seeking out the author of the mysterious tome and uncovering the sinister truth behind the so-called "23 enigma."