Review: HBO’s ‘The Fallout’ falls short of storytelling potential


Courtesy of HBO Max

“The Fallout” on HBO Max was released on Jan 27 of this year. TRL’s Audrey McCaffity said it, “seems to struggle with forcing too many themes at once.”

Following a tragedy, “The Fallout” shows the dark aftermath of events that is often glossed over by the media and public. HBO streamed “The Fallout” on Jan. 27, directed by Megan Park. It displays the struggles of students after a school shooting, and it provides a detailed insight into how each of their lives is affected. 

The movie almost immediately begins with the school shooting that the main character Vada (Jenna Ortega) survives by hiding in the school bathroom along with Mia (Maddie Ziegler) and Quinton (Niles Fitch). After, it cuts to days later when Vada is at home struggling to get out of bed and unwilling to talk to her parents. Mia reaches out to Vada to see how she is doing, and the two connect and bond over their new shared struggle. Over time, we see the long-term effects of the shooting on their mental health, and the movie does an excellent job of showing several different ways they cope.

The movie brings to light the atrocities that too many have experienced in the past twenty years. The focus on long-term effects instead of the short-term effects brings attention to the consistent consequences of school shootings that are so often overlooked. It provides a gentle reminder that though the public is not aware of the constant struggle students go through after a horrific event, it impacts the students constantly.

While the movie is trying to share an important message, it seems to struggle with forcing too many themes at once. The movie only runs for about an hour and a half, but it fills that time with new plot points and perspectives; in a way, it is almost too short to fit all the struggles Vada faces without taking away from any of them. 

Maddie Ziegler is the lead supporting role, but she did not seem ready to have a role in such a dramatic film so early on into her serious acting career. Her part in the movie almost seemed unnatural, and I think there are plenty of other young actresses who could have filled the role in a better way.

One thing the movie does really well is showcasing the different ways students are coping with their trauma. Though the main focus is on Vada and the struggles she faces with drinking and drugs after the shooting, it is interesting to see a totally different reaction in her best friend Nick played by Will Ropp. While he went through the same events as Vada, he turns to activism to help him through his pain. He is in charge of marches and protests that he starts in hopes of preventing future school shootings, and adding his character helps to show just how different trauma is for every person. 

“The Fallout” is a well-thought-out story of an awful event that happens far too often. There are definitely some ways in which it could be adapted into an overall better film, but at the end of the day, it sends the message it was meant to send. 

Rating: B-