Investigative reporter Rachel Keller and her young boy Aidan relocating from Seattle to the quaint mountain town of Asheville, Oregon where she's landed a job at the local Asheville Gazette. Among her colleagues there is Max Rourke, the film's thirtysomething male lead (a la Martin Henderson in the first film).
Rachel is uncomfortable among nosy, smalltown neighbors like chatty Carol Breyer. After all, she's a single mum and the neighbors, even though some of them are single parents themselves, wonder what her story is. Rachel and Aidan are just looking to start over after the events they endured in the original film but, this being a sequel, they're obviously hoping for too much.
Rachel's professional curiosity is intrigued when it comes over the police scanner that Asheville has suffered its first homicide in decades. The victim is a teenage male who was found dead at home, his face ravaged. His date, Emily, is still shaken and disturbed by his gruesome demise.
As you can imagine, the cause of his death was viewing that underground videotape. Only Rachel secretly believes this story, which has been dismissed by everyone else as an urban legend. Rachel initially orders a young reporter not to mention the tape in her story; after all, it's only a rumor and they must report facts.
But Rachel knows the truth about what the tape is and pursues this story after it becomes clear strange things are happening in Asheville ... and her son Aidan has been affected by them.
After a traumatic experience, Aidan is hospitalized; unconscious, perilously cold, and bruised. Rachel insists that Aidan did not experience hypothermia but can't explain what's really ailing him without sounding crazy.
Hospital shrink Dr. Emma Temple implies that Rachel may have abused Aidan, reminding her that she suffered from post-partum depression. There's nothing that matters more to Rachel than her son and there's nothing that she wouldn't do for him. Unfortunately, she looks guilty as sin.
In the meantime Rachel pursues the tape story, returning to the Seattle area to dig deeper into the past of Samara Morgan. She makes a series of discoveries that lead her to the darker truth: that "She wants to be him..." ...Even as her son Aidan, is becoming more and more like... Samara!