Film Reviews

The Fallout (2022)

It’s not often that movies are actually filmed in and take place primarily underwater but if done right, it feels like the perfect angle for a horror movie.

Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s The Deep House gives you just enough time to take in one big breath before diving head first into the cold waters of a French man made lake for the rest of its runtime.

In this particular lake is an abandoned mansion that conjures a young haunted travel vlogging couple, Ben and Tina played by James Jagger and Camille Rowe, to monetarily explore its eerie presence.

Expecting to find only the large structure left standing on the lake floor, what they find inside is much more than expected and with absolutely no means of escape. This mansion is enormous and that’s clear when the couple descend upon it and swim around its exteriors but once inside the completely boarded up place, the many creepy rooms still mostly preserved in completely surrounding watery darkness makes you feel uncomfortably claustrophobic.

The dark and sinister history of the Montegnac Mansion is awakened by the arrival of its latest guests and so this aquatic exploration quickly turns into a horrifying race against time and the terrors that still lurk within this sunken purgatory. Sanity levels deplete even faster than the supplied oxygen tanks do and it fully illustrates wave after wave of dreadful and hopeless panic.

Bustillo and Maury have collaborated on a handful of horror movies since the early 2000s. From their first and still best work on the 2007 film Inside, each movie sadly seemed to get worse from there, especially their 2017 Leatherface film. This movie is easily their 2nd best movie so far. The Deep House is a rather straightforward horror movie but with technical design that is just exceptionally incomparable to any other horror movie out there.

Check it out on Hulu or Paramount Plus.

The Fallout reaches deep into the acute trauma caused by school mass shootings and the extensive road to recovery that accompanies this horrifying experience.

Megan Park is a familiar face in the acting world and has dabbled with directing work for a few years now. The Fallout marks her first ever directorial debut and she couldn’t have written and directed a more heartbreaking story.

The film follows high school student Vada–played by Jenna Ortega–as she navigates an ordinary day of school. Being late with your best friend, classroom boredom but after rushing to the bathroom for a false alarm emergency call from her little sister she makes small talk with a fellow student, Mia Reed–played by Maddie Zeigler–a popular student who is applying her makeup for class photos. Their bathroom small talk is abruptly cut short by the piercing blasts of gunfire in the hallways. It’s a sound that children of the millennial and gen z generation can recognize in milliseconds and so the two girls seek safety in one of the stalls. Gunfire continues as another fellow student Quintin–played by Niles Fitch–seeks cover in the same stall as the girls. Vada has a severe panic attack, a shivering and bloodied Quintin holds himself in the corner and Mia vomits into the toilet. Sirens replace the gunshots and silence fills the bathroom. 

This event connects these three characters in ways they could never have imagined before today and not long after the events, intimate friendships are formed.

While the focus of The Fallout is solely on Jenna Ortega’s Vada, the film does a great job extending the scope to a handful of other students and how they cope with the experience together and how they process the tragedy in their own ways.

We see how devastating the sadness of actually losing a loved one while also being in the crosshairs of gun violence is for a young man like Quintin and it causes him to have severe issues showing or receiving affection. We see the crippling fear that overcomes Mia, a once vibrant young woman, who has to face this nightmare all alone while her parents are abroad. Vada’s best friend, Nick Feinstein–played by Will Ropp–responds to the trauma by fighting back against gun violence and the institutions that have completely failed kids. While Vada finds herself running from her own trauma. When it catches up to her she exerts some survivors guilt, she shuts out her own family and her own best friend and she self medicates with love and drugs alongside the two students that share this traumatic connection. Jenna Ortega, Maddie Zeigler, Niles Fitch and Will Ropp just absolutely pour their hearts out for their performance in The Fallout and it elevates the story with valuable authenticity.

The nature of trauma is entirely unpredictable and oftentimes indescribably overwhelming. It’s easier for some to move on while others become trapped in it for much longer with varying severity. The Fallout accompanies this subject matter with such a sympathetic awareness. The one shining hope is the resiliency kids show despite persistent adult failure that surrounds them every single day. It’s especially the case when it comes to the denial that there is no problem with gun violence so no solution is needed. This country has failed its kids so terribly and continues to do so over and over. Vada finds herself in a slightly better place by the end of the film but it takes very little to remember it all. She receives a notification on her phone of another shooting in Ohio where 12 more kids have been killed. And so the film can only conclude with the harshest realization that this is an enduring American threat that plagues our own youth and will continue to until things change. 

Be aware that while this is absolutely a movie you need to see, it does contain scenes of traumatizing events that may be disturbing for some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

You can watch The Fallout on Hulu.

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