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Forever Fearful: A Review of “The Fallout”

by Rena Lenchitz (‘23)

Sandy Hook Elementary. Virginia Tech. Columbine High School. What were once welcoming and comforting spaces for education have become household names synonymous with gun violence and fear. In her directorial debut, Megan Park carefully crafts a narrative that tackles the topic of gun violence and teenagers who have to cope with the reality and possibility of that kind of tragedy. “The Fallout” masterfully depicts Gen-Z’s perspective on one of the most pressing political issues of our generation.

“The Fallout” centers around high school student Vada, who is entangled in the grasps of social media and high school drama that often captivates the attention of most young teenage girls today. Within the first few scenes of the film, Vada is suddenly thrown into a whirlwind of terrifying fear and vulnerability as she hides from a school shooter alongside her fellow classmate Mia, and later, the brother of one of the shooting’s victims, Quinton. Together, the three students endure the various stages of grievance and acceptance as they navigate growing up and getting by after such a horrific incident.

The film provides viewers with an intimate glimpse into the current generation’s struggles in their liminal position between child and young adult; they are grappling with emotions and conflict and self-expression in the most vulnerable of settings, a high school. What’s more is the film explores the roller-coaster of experiences and thoughts and actions that happen as a consequence of the shooting. There is a significant amount of time dedicated to understanding the characters as human beings who are trying desperately to cope all the while seeking human connection to bring them comfort. Jenna Ortega’s performance as Vada has heartwarming and even laughable moments amidst an otherwise tear-jerking film.

While the film evokes incredibly heart-wrenching emotions pertaining to the central topic of gun-based violence at schools, there is much to be said about the themes of love, sexuality, friendships, and mental/emotional health. Although no film can ever pay complete tribute to the loss of life suffered throughout the historic and infamous school shootings of our generation, “The Fallout” is one step closer to providing viewers some semblance of closure that the main characters of the film so desperately seek.
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