“The Fallout”: Movie Review

By Maddis Gregson, Clarion Staff Reporter

The film “The Fallout,” directed by Megan Park, portrays a young high school student, Vada Cavell (played by Jenna Ortego, star of Disney show Stuck in The Middle), who is involved in a traumatic high school shooting. The majority of this film is about Vada coping with her trauma and adjusting to life after the catastrophe. During the shooting in the movie, Vada hides in the bathroom stalls with the “popular” Mia Reed (Maddie Ziegler, from Dance Moms). She quickly becomes friends with Mia and they begin to hang out every day after the tragedy. While Vada is at home, her best friend Nick makes the rounds in the media as in the news, talking about his experience and strategies to prevent gun violence in schools. He is irritated by the way Vada is dealing with her trauma since he knows it isn’t doing her any good and it’s not helping her get any better. He wishes she would channel her trauma though activism as he is; he is also envious of the amount of time Vada spends with Mia, especially because he has been very patient and supportive of her.

The goal of this film is to demonstrate how students can be affected by horrific experiences such as a high school massacre. Even though Vada did not witness any of her classmates’ deaths, nor was she personally seen or threatened by the shooter, the filmmakers did a great job at capturing Vada’s thoughts through her emotions while she is hiding in the stalls in the bathroom listening to what is happening outside. One of her classmates, Quinton Hasland (Niles Fitch), bursts into the bathroom drenched in blood from his own brother. Park decides not to show any action of the shooting or any victims, but instead focus on the reactions of Vada, Mia, and Quinton, using close ups on their faces so the audience is able to see their fear. The moment when Quinton rushes in, is when Vada realized, “this is actually happening, this is real,” the thoughts came over her and she immediately texted her little sister that she loves her as if it was her last.

After being home for a while, Vada is unable to push herself to go back to school, instead she spends her days in bed or going to Mia’s house. Her parents do their best to be patient with her, but they are concerned, as most parents would be. They decide to put Vada in counseling to help come to terms with what happened. Most teenagers find it difficult to process what they are trying to say and put it into words; Vada demonstrates this in her first therapy session, hiding her troubles behind jokes and a smile. Megan Park and all the producers like Shaun Sanghani, do a good job at capturing the way Vada is processing things through her words and actions, and I’m sure a lot of teenagers are able to relate to this.

Jenna Ortega and Maddie Ziegler’s portrayals of their characters are so real and authentic that they were able to interpret what real uncomfortable teenagers might be like. There were some cringe-worthy scenes throughout the film – for example when Vada and her father are yelling out nonsense in a park– but none of them appeared to be unrealistic. The sole flaw was that there wasn’t much character development in the film for both Vada and Mia, they didn’t show that any of their problems were resolved or how they were able to grow much out of the shlump they were in.

The movie ended on a strange cliffhanger with Vada reacting to a notification of another school massacre and seemed as if everything was starting all over again. “The Fallout,” however, does represent the fear this generation holds with school shooting threats being made to multiple high schools in different states.

A media promotional release poster for The Fallout shows, from left to right, Mia Reed ( Maddie Ziegler) and Vada Cavell (Jenna Ortego), friends laying head to head bonding after a traumatic experience.

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