Megan Park’s heart-wrenching directorial debut “The Fallout” shows how a seemingly normal day in the life of high schoolers is swiftly destroyed by a horrific shooting — and how that shooting is then refracted through social media. The film won the Audience Award for Narrative Feature at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, and arrives on HBO Max January 27. “The Fallout” also features a leading turn from “Scream” breakout Jenna Ortega, starring opposite Maddie Ziegler. Watch the trailer below.
Jenna Ortega stars as Vada, a high schooler in emotional freefall after a school shooting alters her friends, family, and other relationships in her orbit. Others affected by the shooting act out in different ways to cope with their pain. Once-silly Nick (Will Ropp) becomes an overnight sensation as a victim’s advocate, while Quinton (left injured by the shooting) proves to be the most surprisingly emotionally stable. Meanwhile, Shailene Woodley co-stars in a small role as a therapist. Director Megan Park effectively makes the transition from actress and singer to feature filmmaker (her past credits include music videos such as Billie Eilish’s “Watch,” as well as short films).
But it’s Ortega who emerges again as a breakout star. She played the pivotal role in the second season of Netflix’s “You” as Ellie Alves, wise and young neighbor to Penn Badgley’s secret serial killer Joe. Ortega most recently stepped it up big time in “Scream 5” as Tara Carpenter, who answers the phone in the film’s first scene.
More from IndieWire’s review of “The Fallout” out of SXSW:
The filmmaker’s aesthetic, a compelling blend of strong compositions (Park and cinematographer Kristen Correll show particular skill at overhead shots) and a social media-slick presentation, matches well with the tough material. Mostly, though, it captures the energy of the teenage experience — not just by way of on-screen texting (a lot of it, and most of it necessary and natural) or through sequences that often feel a touch too close to music video-issued idealism, but through Park’s obvious investment in the emotional life of her characters. Few sequences are as brutally effective as the shooting itself, but “The Fallout” has plenty of other emotional upheavals to work through over the course of 92 tight minutes.
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