On an airplane bound for Seattle, passengers Carter and Kelly, discover that they both had watched Samara Morgan’s cursed videotape and they realize that their seven day deadline is over. The airplane malfunctions as they attempt to flee from Samara, who eventually causes the plane to crash. Two years later, college professor Gabriel buys an old VCR once owned by one of the passengers, discovering the videotape inside. Elsewhere, Julia sees her boyfriend Holt off to college, but becomes concerned when he falls out of contact. She is inspired to find him when a panicked girl, Skye, contacts her asking for Holt’s whereabouts. Julia meets Gabriel, following him to a private area of the college where a group of people known as "The Sevens", are involved in an experiment involving the cursed video, watching and filming themselves, before passing the task to another person, called a “tail”.
Julia recognizes Skye, who takes her to her apartment to have her watch the video, but Holt contacts Julia, warning her not to. Julia locks herself in the bathroom as Skye is murdered by Samara. Holt arrives shortly after. Unwilling to let Holt die, Julia watches the video, experiencing a vision of a door, and a mark is burnt on her hand. Turning to Gabriel for help, he notices Julia’s copy of the video is larger than usual. She watches it, discovering new footage hinting at the fate of Samara’s body. Gabriel sends them to the town Sacrament Valley, where she was given a burial. He later realizes the mark on Julia’s hand is Braille, translates it, and goes to warn them.
Arriving in town, Julia and Holt travel to a church, exploring the graveyard for Samara’s stone. They find an unmarked tomb, but when they break in, they find it is empty. Julia and Holt are caught but are taken to a blind man named Burke, who claims Samara’s body was entombed by the local priest but a flood came shortly after, leading the town to bury her out in a field. He also notes Julia’s mark. Heading out of town, Julia and Holt are stopped due to a car crash and learn Gabriel was involved. He tries to warn Julia of his discovery but is fatally electrocuted by a falling utility pole. After experiencing a vision of Samara’s mother Evelyn, Julia and Holt return to town.
While Holt makes inquiries about Evelyn’s fate, Julia goes to the church following her visions. She discovers a hidden chamber beneath the bell tower and finds evidence that Evelyn was imprisoned there whilst pregnant, held in captivity by the priest after being raped before she escaped at eight and a half months into the pregnancy. Julia visits Burke and explains her findings. He suddenly attacks her, revealing he was not only the priest but Samara’s biological father, blinding himself to escape the reach of his daughter’s powers. Julia pushes him down the stairs and is drawn to his bedroom, discovering Samara’s skeleton hidden behind a wall. Burke tries to choke her to death, but a swarm of cicadas fly in, summoning Samara through Julia’s phone. Samara then removes Burke’s blindness so she can kill him. Holt arrives, having discovered the truth, and together, he and Julia cremate Samara’s corpse.
Shortly after, Julia and Holt return home. While Julia is in the shower, Holt notices a voicemail from Gabriel, who warns him of the Braille. Holt translates it, discovering it means “rebirth”. Julia coughs up a string of hair, from which a fly is born. She gazes into a mirror and sees Samara as her reflection. Julia’s copy of the video is suddenly sent to everyone on her contact list and soon goes viral online.