Megan Park takes a traumatic event and makes a masterpiece

By Megan Claussen

Staff Writer

Written and directed by Megan Park, “The Fallout” follows high school student Vada (Jenna Ortega) as she forms a bond with popular high schooler Mia (Maddie Ziegler) in the aftermath of surviving a school shooting together. 

“The Fallout” movie poster PHOTO CREDIT: Clear Horizon

It is a beautifully written and emotionally impactful look at tragedy and the grief that follows. This film is an example of how to make a good film out of an extremely difficult subject matter while treating its victims with respect.

In The Fallout, Vada Cavell is an average high school student until a school shooting occurs and she finds herself latching onto fellow students Mia and Quinton (Niles Fitch) afterward. Vada and Mia become particularly close, helping each other with their grief. 

But when Vada realizes that she’s not handling her emotions in a healthy way, she struggles to find relief. Ortega gives an excellent performance that carries the film, portraying Vada’s healing journey with such care through deliberate choices that don’t always better her but are real.

It shows Vada’s recovery and is a lesson of the real nature of trauma. As an emotional drama that deals with the aftermath of a school shooting: I believe “The Fallout” shows, in great detail, the mental consequences of school shootings. 

Ortega absolutely nails her role as a realistic teen who is in shock from an unthinkable event on top of the usual teenage issues. Her bizarre, impulsive and sometimes hilarious outbursts all help to show how she tries to deal with grief. This movie definitely achieves its purpose in showing how different people react after such a traumatic event.

Jenna Ortega has appeared in about 14 movies and numerous TV shows. “The Fallout” is similar to the types of movies she has been in recently, but her career started with small roles in movies and she eventually landed her main character role in “Stuck in the Middle”. 

Jenna Ortega stars as “Vada Cavell” PHOTO CREDIT: gettyimages

The director of the show, Megan Park, is a Canadian actress, director and singer. She is known for her role as Grace Bowman in the television series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”. In 2021, Park won three awards at South by Southwest for her directorial debut in “The Fallout”. This is definitely a little different for her because she usually acts in movies.

“The Fallout” was a really good film overall but some parts were a little overkill. For example, in the last scene Veda gets an alert on her phone of a shooting that had just happened at a different school. She reacts in a very dramatic way that seems like a little much, but of course, I do see that the purpose of her role is to help the viewer understand the weight teens carry around in the present day.

The Fallout does a great job of showing how messy grief can be, including the moments of making mistakes, hurting others and feeling lost and alone. Vada is extremely relatable in a kind of scary way, especially since her character shows the devastation that a needless crime can cause. I would definitely recommend the fallout to anyone who is looking for a very deep, thoughtful, and entertaining movie.

Featured Image (at the top of the post): “The Fallout” movie artwork PHOTO CREDIT: HBO Max

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