Mental Illness Brought To Light In “The Fallout”

Mental Illness Brought To Light In The Fallout

Annie Cameron, Staff Writer

After much anticipation, “The Fallout” starring Jenna Ortega and Maddie Ziegler has been released on HBO Max. The movie follows the lives of two high school girls looking to navigate their lives after a school shooting. Vada, played by Jenna Ortega, and Mia, played by Maddie Ziegler, find themselves trapped in the school bathroom during the shooting along with Quinton, played by Niles Fitch. After the shooting is over, they find themselves bonded through the trauma. The film exposes the grip PTSD can hold over a person, as the survivors struggle to get back to normal life. Mia and Vada, two unlikely friends, are now inseparable as they work through the emotional trauma and stages of grief together. 

Although this movie is not based on a true story, it proves to be relatable for students who have been in similar situations. “The Fallout” brings light to the trauma many survivors fight with in their daily life. Vada draws attention to this throughout the movie as she battles with PTSD following the incident. Experiencing aggressive nightmares, having extreme difficulty returning to school, and even in one scene the sound of a soda can being crushed gives her flashbacks sending her into a panic attack as a result of the PTSD. 

“The Fallout” also brings attention to substance abuse, as Vada and Mia look to alcohol and drugs as a way to relieve themselves from the memories that continue flooding their heads. In one scene, Vada buys drugs from a dealer at school to help her make it through the day. After taking too much, she is seen hallucinating throughout the school day, rolling down the stairs, and eventually being brought home by one of her friends. There are also several scenes of Mia and Vada smoking marijuana together, and drinking alcohol to avoid reality.

Throughout the movie Vada continues pushing away all family and friends except for Mia and Quinton, the friends she survived with. Vada is afraid to scare her family or let them see how badly she is struggling, so she pushes them out and lies to them, doing what she thinks will protect them. As her mother forces her to attend therapy, Vada lies to her therapist throughout the first half of the movie trying to prove that she is okay when she is not.

 Vada goes through a series of emotions, and spends a long period of time feeling numb to any emotions. Scared to accept her reality, or disappoint her family, she continues on looking to substances as a coping mechanism and spending all of her time with Mia. As Mia’s parents are on a business trip throughout the whole movie, she has no one to guide her through the grieving period other than Vada. Their dependency on each other, although in some cases toxic, allows them to build a seemingly unbreakable bond.

The Fallout follows the severe trauma and effects of a school shooting on two teen girls. As school shootings are still increasing throughout America, it is important we bring attention to not only the lives lost, but also the lives of the survivors, who continue living with the trauma everyday. The Fallout depicts the causes and effects of school shooting related trauma on survivors, evoking a series of emotions in this heart-breaking film, as two survivors learn to navigate their trauma together.