The following article contains spoilers. Continue with caution.
Released on HBO Max, “The Fallout” is Megan Park’s directorial debut. This film captures the trauma and horror of a student and parents’ worst nightmare — a school shooting.
The film follows the main character Vada, played by Jenna Ortega. She is a normal high schooler until her life drastically changes when a shooter enters their school and opens fire. Hiding in the bathroom, Vada meets Mia, played by Maddie Ziegler. Vada, along with most of the school, is traumatized after attending funerals for her classmates and experiencing the effects the shooting had on their mental health.
As she refuses to return to school and secretly spends most of her time at Mia’s house, Vada’s mom soon makes her see a therapist that she initially she does not want to open up to. With alcohol and drugs, Vada tries to cope with the immense trauma which forces her to grow up faster than she realized and adapt to a new way of living.
Ziegler and Ortega bond over the events to create an unlikely friendship. Sometimes you just need a friend to stand by you and who knows exactly what you are going through. There was no judgment and they became best friends.
Ortega and Ziegler convey how you move on and adapt, even if it’s not up to everyone else’s standards to define a new normal and life, and teach that it is okay to deal and live in your own way.
Jenna Ortega gives a show stopping performance that resonates with the audience. She explores how to find yourself and cope with the reality of trying to get by as a teenager in addition to dealing with major loss and trauma, as if being 15 is not hard enough. Ortega created a whirlwind of emotions for the audience and there isn’t a scene where you do not feel attached or completely invested.
While earning a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 83% audience rating, the movie touched every emotion an audience has because of the meaningfulness and reality of the message. One day you go into school and the next minute you’re struck with the fear that you might not make it home for dinner. It shows the trauma adolescents experience from the effects of society but most importantly how they learn to cope and deal with it. It’s a tearjerker performance that explores a side that is raw and understandable.
A problem that “The Fallout” explores is what is being done to make these schools safer for students. In the film, some of the students organize a movement to bring awareness for students’ safety. They became recognized in the media and fight for change for schools across the country. Their goal is to prevent a school shooting from happening and save the next students lives.
Do students really have to take care of it?
In order for them to feel safe enough to walk through the front doors or even go to the bathroom, they have to fight and stand up for their own safety. More protection is needed for students today and this film advocates for just that. It’s a call to action for people to open their eyes and listen. A traumatic event like this sticks with people and it cannot be ignored.
It has become too common to hear about school shootings or threats against students’ safety at school. Students today are learning what the new meaning of “safe” is. “The Fallout” gives a real performance that compares to no other. It’s the story behind why students are fighting for change and being forced to learn the new meaning of “safe.”