The Depression is a 2014 psychological horror film written and directed by James Wan, starring Georgie Henley, Isabelle Nelisse, Ciaran Hinds, Conleth Hill, Freema Agyeman, Jack Gleeson, Mark Rylance and John Simm. It is a film that surrounds a girl trying to deal with her difficult younger sister, who is convinced that her imaginary friend murdered their parents. It was well-received by critics, with praise for its emotional complexity, the chemistry between the two female leads, the musical score and Georgie Henley's performance.
The film opens with Annie Reacher screaming and waking up from a nightmare, and being comforted tensely by her sister Kathy. Kathy manages to calm her sister down, and returns to sleep, but writing down in her diary that this is the twenty-first uproar on Annie's part in the six months since their parents' deaths. Their guardian, Jack Baltimore, speaks briefly with Kathy over breakfast, and through dialogue it is learned that Kathy and Annie's parents were violently murdered six months ago during Sunday dinner, their bodies thrown from their bedroom window, and there is evidence that they killed one another during a fight. Kathy visits a psychiatrist, Dr. Brady, and she lies that everything at school has been progressing smoothly in the last six months. Dr. Brady knows that she's lying, but doesn't tell her.
At school, Kathy is ostracised from her friends because of her sister's reputation, whereas Annie, still in primary school, is obsessed with the conception that an imaginary creature, whom she names Mister Sin, is responsible for their parents' deaths. The teacher catches her sketching Mister Sin, a cartoon character wearing a voluminous white leather duster, with a frightening grin and rectangular red eyes. She is mocked by the other children and is placed in detention by her teacher, who chides her for her fixation on an imaginary friend at such an unnatural age, but she remains belligerently stubborn in the creature's existence. On Kathy's part, she struggles to focus due to the sleep-deprivation that Annie's nightmares bring on, and she falls asleep in class, waking up to find derisive messages written on her arms by the other students.
Picking up Annie from school, Kathy notices a large number of the parents looking at her, at the writing on her arms and her shabby appearance - she even snaps at one of the younger children for callously mocking her situation. She collects Annie, and Annie's teacher explains that the girl's behaviour has gotten out of hand. Walking her home, Kathy ignores attempts at conversation from her sister and sarcastically responds to Annie telling her about her day. When Annie asks about Kathy's day, Kathy says that it passed by like a dream, but Annie doesn't understand the double-entendre. When they get home, Annie sees who is apparently Mister Sin, which both Kathy and Jack ignore, until she falls from a climbing frame and pretends that she was pushed during a game with Mister Sin.
Kathy's tutor, Jane Green, notices her antisocial and troubled behaviour, and how she both sleeps during class and gets into fights during breaks, and attempts to sympathise with her during one of their sessions, a sympathy that Kathy rebuffs that the problem isn't with her, but with her sisters imagination. Kathy's best friend, Cody, meets her at a Burger King, and she tries to enjoy herself for the sake of keeping him as a friend, until Annie interrupts them and humiliates Kathy with suggestions that Mister Sin was seen at their parents' house. Kathy is silently furious, but ignores the shocking amount of attention that Annie's story brings up from passers-by. On their way back, while Kathy is in a sleepless daze, they are almost run over by a car, but Jack pulls them out of the way and Annie bruises her knees.
A dizzy and enraged Kathy dresses Annie's bruises, and contemplates snapping at her sister for humiliating her in front of Cody, but decides not to because Annie means well and is only young. However, during the night, Annie appears to see Mister Sin again and follows him into the attic. She explores the attic, which awakens Kathy, who storms up to the attic and retrieves her sister, who suddenly turns violent and tries to head back up the attic in search of Mister Sin. Kathy is tempted to slap Annie, until Jack wakes up and sates Annie. The next day, Kathy falls asleep a second time during a test and, when she wakes up, finds mocking drawings of Mister Sin over her exam book. In a blind rage, she tears up the exam book, only to find similar drawings etched into her body. She swats herself frantically, and falls backwards over a table, knocking herself out. While being nursed by Dr. Brady, Kathy remarks that she cannot take any more of her sister's fantasies for much longer.
A local retired journalist named Kyle Jackson takes an interest in Kathy and interviews her as she walks home, but she aggressively rebukes him. Intrigued, he shadows her home and watches her collect Annie again. Over the next two nights, he manages to take pictures of Annie exploring the house in search of Mister Sin, and the repercussions for Kathy which become increasingly chaotic when she snaps at Jane and learns that Annie herself was involved in a fight with some other girls who were mocking her for her imaginary friends - Annie has seriously injured several of the girls who tried to intervene, and even attacked a teacher when he tried to break up the fight. Threatened with expulsion, Annie defends that Mister Sin is real and compelled her to do so. Kathy is humiliated again when she is confronted with this situation when members of the PTA confront her about it.
Kathy, while alone in the house with Cody, throws a vicious rage about Annie and how she is ruining their lives. At the climax of this tantrum, Kathy actually sees Mister Sin in the mirror and screams, but when nothing is seen in the mirror seconds later she fears she is losing her mind. When Annie overhears Kathy explaining this to Jack, she is overjoyed and tries to embrace Kathy since they both have seen Mister Sin, but Kathy flies into a verbal rage on her sister and tirades that she should have grown up by now and extricated imaginary friends from her mind, which makes Annie start to cry - Kathy, recovering from her temper, tries to apologise to her sister but Annie runs from the house. Kyle sees the argument unfold and follows her.
Kathy runs to find Annie, but Jack goes after her and convinces her to go back while he looks for Annie, which Kathy refuses. They eventually find Annie standing by a river and Annie tries to commit suicide in a tearful trance. Kathy convinces her to come away, and when Kyle accidentally reveals himself Kathy breaks his nose with her boot. While they are leaving the river, Mister Sin appears and kills Jack, before trying to attack the sisters. They run back to the house and Kathy locks them inside, but from outside Mister Sin taunts them and laughs maniacally when Kathy denies his existence.
Over the course of the next day, Kathy is haunted by the events of the previous night, but finds that she doesn't feel as sleepy as previously. While at school, both sisters have fleeting sightings of Mister Sin. When Kathy meets with Cody again, Cody explains that Kyle Jackson has filed a complaint against her for assault, and she is confronted by the headmistress. She defends that he'd been stalking her and her sister, and Kyle backs down eventually. On the way back, Cody attacks Kyle for trying to sue Kathy and is expelled from school. Knowing that she is already in enough trouble already because of her sister, Cody breaks up with Kathy, who falls into despair at home and is reluctantly comforted by Annie.
While she is being comforted, she meets with Dr. Brady and explains that things are getting much better between the two of them, to which he is overjoyed. Later on, however, Annie experiences a nightmare and wakes up, calling out to Kathy, who comes in and, suddenly, Mister Sin appears again and menaces them with images of their dead parents. Kathy denies his existence again, but Mister Sin suddenly grows larger and stronger and strangles Annie, only for Kathy to use a bedlamp to smash his wrists. Mister Sin recoils and Kathy advances, stating that he is real, but they aren't afraid of him - and that there is nothing he can do about it. Mister Sin shrieks at this and dissolves, leaving nothing but his white leather duster.
Kathy and Annie burn the leather duster in a small bonfire and, while watching it roast, Kathy embraces Annie. This scene alternates between that, and Kathy speaking with Dr. Brady, stating that she's back together with Cody and that they are all moving on from recent events - Annie has stopped discussing Mister Sin, and she has slept better than she has in years. She and Dr. Brady shake hands and he bids her farewell, before she leaves with Annie, hand-in-hand.
- Georgie Henley as Kathy Reacher, a troubled, introverted but kind girl who is still trying to recover from the deaths of her parents.
- Isabelle Nelisse as Annie Reacher, Kathy's eleven-year-old, difficult and erratic younger sister who is obsessed with the conception that her imaginary friend, Mister Sin, murdered their parents
- Ciaran Hinds as Jack Baltimore, the guardian of the Reacher children who tolerates Annie, tries to help Kathy, and is eventually killed by Mister Sin.
- Conleth Hill as Dr. Brady, a psychiatrist who separately treats both Kathy and Annie and tries to help Kathy come to terms with the loss she has sustained.
- Freema Agyeman as Jane Green, Kathy's tutor at school who tries to balance protecting her from bullies to taming Annie's eccentric behaviour.
- Jack Gleeson as Cody Fisk, Kathy's best friend who is the only one truly comfortable with Annie's behaviour and tries to protect Kathy from her own insecurity.
- Mark Rylance as Kyle Jackson, a retired journalist who takes an interest in the sisters and begins to investigate their lives.
- John Simm as the voice of Mr. Sin, the malevolent creature and Annie's imaginary friend, who killed their parents. He is a manifestation of both Kathy and Annie's insecurities, and becomes stronger with every time his existence is denied.
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Mr. Reacher, Kathy and Annie's deceased father.
- Helen McCrory as Mrs. Reacher, Kathy and Annie's deceased mother.
The Depression was generally well-received by critics and audiences, with substantial praise for Wan's direction, the film's score, suspense, darkness, emotional complexity and the acting performance of Georgie Henley. The film received a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and its consensus reads "Disturbing, dark, menacing and violent, The Depression combines the mesmerising talent of Georgie Henley with the terrifying direction of James Wan to create a powerful, frightening story". Much like Wan's other work, it was acclaimed for its combination of suspense and intense scares, and its supernatural elements - especially, it was praised for being a psychological horror with a supernatural creature as the main villain, and simultaneously still holding up as a cohesive horror film.
In particular, critics applauded the performance of Georgie Henley as Kathy Reacher. She described the role as extremely enjoyable to explore such a realistic and complicated character, and James Wan himself considered her acting to be captivatingly grounded in reality. Movie critic Mark Kermode commented 'Georgie Henley excels herself in a beautiful performance as a dangerously conflicted teenage girl, in such a way that she seems like she's inhabited the role completely'. Parents of some viewers complained that her performance frightened their children more than Mister Sin himself, because her reactions and situations were both intense, disturbing and uproariously complicated.
The vocal performance of John Simm was also acclaimed, with the film's producer Tony DeRosa-Grund commenting 'Ranging from eerie whispering tones, to hysterical sadistic cries, Simm creates a captivating figure of human terror and complexity'. Simm himself commented on the practical effects, sound and appearance of Mister Sin, comparing it favourably to a similar creature from the film The Babadook.
The film received several awards and nominations. John Simm received the Kid's Choice for Scariest Villain Award, and a nomination for Best Vocal Performance. Georgie Henley received a nomination for Best Young Actress and Best Anti-Hero, won for Best Actress in a Lead Role (Shared with Isabelle Nelisse), Teen Choice for Best Scene-Stealer, and Best Hissy-Fit. Both she and Isabelle Nelisse received won an award for Best Chemistry. Ciaran Hinds was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor in a Horror Movie. Wan won Best Director, and the film itself was nominated for Best Special Effects (For the creation of Mister Sin), Best Musical Score and Best Editing. Freema Agyeman was nominated for Kid's Choice for Best Supporting Actress.