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Alright, ladies, it’s time for a review of a moderately anticipated film, and that is HBOmax’s new original film: The Fallout.

If you haven’t seen the ads on Tik Tok and Instagram, which were my primary sources of information, let me give you a few key details and include a trigger warning. The Fallout is a movie that follows the aftermath of a school shooting that happens within the first 10 minutes of the film. Though no one is injured on camera, there is blood as one character’s brother was shot and presumably died in his arms. If you cannot handle this content for whatever reason, I highly recommend switching to a different article because although the shooting happens early on, it is the premise of the movie, and I will be referring back to it quite often.

The Fallout is a film that follows the story of two high school girls (Vada and Mia) who become close after they are trapped together in a bathroom stall during a school shooting. To a lesser extent, we also get a look into one of the shooting victim’s siblings’ journey of coping with his brother’s tragic death.

Our two main characters are Vada Cavell and Mia Reed. Vada is played by former Disney star Jenna Ortega and is unpopular but very close to her best friend Nick and her younger sister Amelia. On the other hand, we have Mia played by Maddie Ziegler. Mia’s character felt very true to the life of Maddie herself, being not only incredibly social media famous, but also gaining this fame from dancing. And despite how Vada perceives Mia to be at first, they become friends as they try and work through what they experienced perched on that toilet.

Now let’s move into my thoughts on the movie. Let me start by saying that I thought The Fallout was a beautifully done poignant film that allows viewers to see the differing types of emotional damage and responses school shootings can elicit. Not only did the actors do an incredible job at making you feel the fear and emotions that these characters are going through, but you are right there with them in the moments of the shooting. You don’t know what’s happening outside of the bathroom stall; you don’t know when it’s going to stop; you don’t know whose injuries all you can do is hold your breath with them as they sob and realize that they could potentially die.

Then there’s the moment where we meet Quinton, who just saw his brother get shot and all they have in those moments that could be their last is fear and each other. It makes you feel sick to your stomach because you know that for some people, this has been a reality.

Then it’s over. The police are there, and you hear one last gunshot as they wonder it over. All it took to change what could have been a completely different movie was that one gun; that’s all it takes to change someone’s life to end someone’s life, and the movies just started, so now you see the aftermath. The part that they don’t show in other media because it’s so quickly forgotten by everyone who didn’t experience it and these three children are changed forever.

So all you can do is sit back and watch and hope it gets better and that they have the proper support system. This, by the way, is all before the movie’s 15-minute mark, so now you get to see how they cope, how their families cope, how everything around them simultaneously changes and doesn’t change. So you get to see several different ways students have handled these issues. You learn why they are essential or responded this way.

Vada, for instance, is numb, scared, and angry, but she has a support system that is trying so hard to help her. Whereas Mia is scared and doesn’t have a support system other than Vada, a girl she probably never would have talked to had it not been for the shooting.

Another storyline is Vada’s best friend Nick, who becomes active when he starts organizing protests and fighting for change. You see how all of these responses are valid. They’re all coping mechanisms. The film doesn’t shame any character for their reactions but shows you where they’re coming from and how they’re all valid.

There’s just so much in this film that I feel goes overlooked when we have these real-life instances that need to be shown almost to shine a mirror back in the face of our humanity and ask us, “How can you keep hiding from this ugly truth.”

There is so much more I could say about this film and its message and importance, but I want you all to watch it on your own without spoilers. So I’ll leave you with a glowing recommendation to watch this film (should it be something that would not harm your mental health) and a reminder that just because this is a movie and we’re used to happy Hollywood endings and entertainment does not mean that you are entitled to that in a film that handles such significant issues. It’s not meant to be a lighthearted watch but intended to be watched, thought about, and discussed.


Her Campus CWU Writer Current Junior at Central Washington University Majoring in Liberal Studies with a Business minor A yellow enthusiast through and through
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