One year after the events of the first film, Samara Morgan’s cursed videotape has been circulating through teenagers in Astoria, Oregon. Jake Pierce is on his seventh day as per the tape’s rules, and asks his friend Emily to watch the tape. He briefly steps into his kitchen whilst Emily supposedly watches the tape. Jake receives a phone call and initially thinks it’s Samara but is relieved to realize it’s only his friend with whom he had planned to trick Emily into watching the tape. Suddenly, Jake notices dark liquid pouring from under the kitchen door and runs outside to the living room, only to discover Emily closed her eyes while watching the tape. Jake is then promptly murdered by Samara.
Rachel Keller and her 10-year old son Aidan (who addresses his mother by her first name), have moved to Astoria from Seattle after sending the tape off into the ether. Rachel works at The Daily Astorian for editor Max Rourke. Rachel learns of Jake’s death, inspecting his body, only for Samara to appear, declaring that she has been looking for her. Rachel obtains the videotape and burns it. Aidan experiences a nightmare where Samara drags him into a television. He soon starts developing hypothermia and bruises on his arms. At a county fair, Aidan wanders into a toilet and takes photographs of his reflection, where Samara appears. Rachel takes him home but they are attacked by wild deer on the way. Rachel realizes Aidan may be possessed by Samara.
Max takes them in, Rachel attempting to give Aidan a bath, but he develops an irrational fear of water. Samara causes the water to recede from the bath, replacing Aidan, terrorising Rachel that she tries to drown Samara. Max enters, seeing her drowning Aidan instead, and forces her to take her son to the hospital. Based on Aidan’s bruises, psychiatrist Emma Temple suspects child abuse on Rachel’s part, who admits she had postpartum depression, and sends Rachel away. Looking for answers, Rachel returns to the Morgan ranch on Moesko Island, finding evidence of Samara’s biological mother Evelyn, who tried to drown her as an infant. Rachel visits Evelyn in a psychiatric hospital, who advises her to “listen to her baby”.