The Fallout tells about the lingering trauma affecting kids who lived through a school shooting. It’s visceral, emotional, and powerful. A brilliant performance from Jenna Ortega puts you right in her lived experience as a terrified teen. The film is on HBO Max.
The Fallout was written and directed by Megan Park. She captured every nuance of emotion, every coping mechanism, every reality of teen life. Everything about this film is well done; it grabs you and drags you into the emotion and leaves you feeling drained and astonished.
Vada (Jenna Ortega) leaves for school on a normal day. She’s riding with her gay best friend Nick (Will Ropp). She’s in class when she gets a text from her little sister, Amelia (Lumi Pollack). She asks to go the restroom and talks to her sister.
Mia (Maddie Ziegler) is in the bathroom, too. They hear shots and hide in a stall. More and more shots sound as they huddle in terror.
Quinton (Niles Fitch) runs into the bathroom. He joins the girls in their stall. He’s covered with blood. His brother’s blood.
These three are the kids we follow through the film as they deal with the fallout from the shooting. Each of them reacts in their own way. Quinton looks out for his family. Mia stays home from school and drinks wine. Vada stays home from school and sleeps. The event bonded them, even though they would not normally be friends.
Vada’s parents (John Ortiz and Julie Bowen) are supportive. They let her stay home, get her a therapist (Shailene Woodley), and eventually want her to return to school.
Vada and Mia hang out all the time. They drink. They do drugs. They roam the streets and swim in Mia’s pool. Vada impulsively buys Ecstasy on her way into school. She experiments with sex. Vada and Mia avoid, avoid, avoid. Until they finally can avoid no longer.
Each of the three finds ways to try to move on, but it’s clear that this incident will never truly heal or be left behind them. Hundreds of thousands of young people – a whole generation – have been affected by school shootings since the year 2000. Each of them is going to carry the burden of that trauma for the rest of their lives.
This film is hard to watch and it gets to you. Self-care, please.