In the United States, school shootings have become a far too common occurrence. We know about Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and Santa Fe. Younger generations are constantly put at risk because their elders fail to do anything about gun access. There are students that have stepped up to become activists and fight for stricter gun laws. But The Fallout isn’t about the children that become activists. It’s about the ones we don’t see on TV, it’s about the ones we have no idea about.
The Fallout focuses on Vada Cavell (Jenna Ortega), a teen that hides out in a school restroom with Mia Reed (Maddie Ziegler) and Quinton Hasland (Niles Fitch) during a shooting. Mia ends up forming a bond with the two students and straining relationships elsewhere. Anxiety and nervousness take over, the three stay home and away from school. Quinton loses his brother, and the girls are there for him. The bond is a great one that Mia struggles to balance.
Mia struggles with her family relationship as she tries to act like none of the situation affects her. She deals with drugs, love, confusion, and through counseling finds a way. Her parents Patricia (Julie Bowen) and Carlos (John Ortiz) must learn how to cope with her grief and struggle. This affects her in many ways, and the fallout of it all leads to a great coming-of-age story. In the midst of tragedy, anything is possible.
Writer/director Megan Park – in her directing debut, no less – captures everything that surrounds school shootings. She wrote a story about a young girl learning to cope with her situation. Tragedies make people feel terrible for surviving, especially when someone loses a loved one. There are several elements to grief and Park made sure to capture all of them.
There were many layers to this film, one of them being Maddie Ziegler’s character. A social media influencer/dancer. In real life, she is a dancer and was on Dance Moms at one point. She shows off her moves here and there throughout the film. It’s actually a very great but small detail added to the film. Ziegler and Ortega even have a dance scene in the movie, and it’s a lot of fun. The duo had a lot of chemistry and were definitely a highlight to the film.
The Fallout has some great performances, Ortega of course along with Lumi Pollack as Vada’s little sister Amelia. These two seem like sisters in a lot of ways, and they also have some great chemistry. Bowen and Ortiz are great onscreen also and play some very thoughtful parents. Ortiz most definitely delivers a great performance. Fitch is amazing in this film. He plays a young man that may be broken but he’s fighting. He knows his brother is watching over him and that helps him keep his head high.
We see the kids that the news and media focus on all the time, but The Fallout shows us that it’s deeper than that. There is a lot to explore within this film, but the trauma was the main focus for me. Therapy, guidance, mental health all need to be taken seriously for kids involved in a school shooting. This film is great and it tells a tale bigger than any of us.
The Fallout is a beautiful story about a terrible situation. I loved it, and it hit me in the heart. As somebody who has been dealing with grief quite an awful lot lately, I needed it. I’m sure others will as well. This isn’t just another coming-of-age story, it’s a story about overcoming. Even when you overcome, you still have to keep fighting. We are a society that needs to do more for the younger generation and it’s going to take a lot more than shouting matches on social media. – Rascal F. Kennedy
The Fallout is available on HBO Max right now!