This is the second of three posts that have been created by a guest writer for HBOWatch. If what’s offered is seen favorably then ANNA RYTSZEL will soon be a permanent writer for the site. Good luck, Anna!
I’ve recently watched the HBO Max original movie “The Fallout”. The film stars Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, Niles Fitch, Will Roop, Lumi Pollack, John Ortiz, Julie Bowen and Shailene Woodley. Jenna Ortega plays Vada Cavell, a High School teenager who goes through a traumatic event.
Vada is a typical teenager, she has a loving family, does fairly good in school, has a best friend, life goes pretty well for her. While at school one day, Vada gets a text from her little sister. She heads out to the hall to call her sister back. After they talk for a few minutes, Vada heads to the bathroom. While in the bathroom Vada starts talking to Mia Reed (Maddie Ziegler), that is when they hear shots coming from outside. They both hide in a stall crying and struggling to keep quiet… That is as far as I will take you. To know more you have to watch the rest of the movie for yourself.
I have to say, overall, this film was done in a very tasteful and respectful way, especially the shooting scene as we never see the shooter or the victims. Throughout the entire movie, we watch Vada as she struggles to deal with the horrific event. Her emotions come through the screen as genuine, true, and honest. You can feel all the pain and the fear that this young actress expresses throughout the film. Vada goes through ups and downs as she tries her best to cope with her forever changed life.
The Fallout is a good reminder of all the horrific incidents that still happen in our schools. Just because we don’t hear about school shootings as often in the media as we did before COVID it does not mean that those occurrences still don’t happen. As recently as November 30th, 2021 a 15-year-old sophomore shot 11 of his classmates, killing 3 and fatally injuring 8. The shooting took place at the Oxford High School in Michigan. Most of the time when a documentary or movie is made about mass High School shootings we see it from the shooter’s point of view, The Fallout is the opposite. This movie is a good example of a survivors’ point of view.
I would highly recommend watching this wonderful film especially if you are a teenager, a parent of a teenager, or anyone who might have sadly gone through this type of event themselves. We all go through different things in our lives, some days are worse than others, we all have our ups and downs, we all have some things we need to learn how to deal with. This movie is just one example of young girls’ journey of learning how to cope with life after a tragic event.
One of the funniest or rather lighthearted scenes in the film has to be Vada and Mia smoking a joint. For most smoking pot would be a relaxing experience however that is not the case for Vada. Instead of feeling relaxed Vada walks from one side of the pool to the other, talking non-stop, on the other hand, Mia floats in the pool completely relaxed and calm. I find this scene quite amusing and cheerful as it is nice to see Vada in a better mood since the shooting.
On the other hand, one of the saddest and quite emotionally crushing scenes is the final scene in the movie. Vada is outside of Mia’s dance studio waiting for her. While she sits on a huge rock, she receives a news update about another school shooting. The camera pans from her phone to her face and you see Vada once again breaking down. This scene broke my heart because towards the end of the movie we see Vada finally healing emotionally however this news update brings her right back to the day of the horrible event she went through.
These two different scenes prove how unpredictable our emotions can be, how quickly our mood can change, and how small things can trigger us if we are not fully healed. PTSD is a real thing, it doesn’t matter the age, gender, social status, sexual orientation, or race. It doesn’t discriminate on how big or small the traumatic event was. It brings anger, rage, sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, fear, loneliness, isolation. What’s important is how we deal with all of it. Do we fall apart, hold it all in, deal with it by ourselves, disappear, go numb, or do we work on getting better, getting the help we need, relying on all the tools that are available. Family, therapy, support groups are great resources widely available for anyone who is willing to take a step towards healing their trauma. The Fallout is just one example of how someone, in this case, a young teenage girl, learns how to deal with her PTSD and the events that led to it.