The Fallout Ending Explained & Plot Analysis

Shooting, PTSD, support and other topics in the film The Fallout (2021): meaning of the ending, plot summary, explanation of the film, description, analysis, similar films.

Country: USA

Genre: drama

Year of production: 2021

Director: Megan Park

Actors: Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler, Nils Fitch

Megan Park made a very emotional, powerful and deep film. Despite the fact that the plot of the film is built around a specific tragedy, it mostly tells about its consequences for one person. The ending of The Fallout is essentially a Chekhov’s Gun. It hits so hard that it is very difficult to recover from the emotional shock.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the contents of the picture. The plot centers on a girl named Vada. She is a cheerful and cheerful person and has good relationships with teachers, classmates and family members.

Jenna Ortega of the film The Fallout
Jenna Ortega played the role of Vada Cavell. Still from the film The Fallout

But one day everything changes. One day, in the middle of class, her younger sister Amelia calls her. The girl started her first period and became scared. Vada makes fun of her sister in a kind way, thereby gradually bringing her out of her stressful state.

After this, the main character goes to the restroom. And soon several more guys come running there – they are hiding from the “shooter” who fired at the school. The psychopath is soon neutralized by the police and the terrified, crying teenagers are finally able to leave the restroom.

Several weeks have passed since the tragedy. However, Vada cannot come to her senses – she loses the meaning of life and falls into depression. The family’s attempts to help her turn out to be fruitless – the girl seems to be closing herself off from the inside and not letting anyone near her.

A psychologist tries to come to her aid. The girl acts friendly and makes contact, but when the psychologist asks if Vada wants to talk about something special, she immediately closes down. “I know my parents are worried and want to help me,” she says, “but I’m fine, really.”

However, she herself knows that this is not entirely true. In order to somehow cope with her trauma, the girl decides to try alcohol. The mental pain does not go away and Vada resorts to another “proven” remedy – “weed”. She begins to use more and more often and one day her friend Nick notices it. The guy is sure that taking drugs is a bad idea and needs to be stopped. Vada agrees – she understands that mind-altering substances do not help, but simply give a temporary effect. With the help of Nick, in particular, the girl eventually overcomes her addiction, but her soul is still very heavy.

John Ortiz of the film The Fallout
The role of Carlos Cavell is played by John Ortiz. Still from the film The Fallout

The family is very worried about her and one day her father offers to go out of town with him. There he conducts a rather specific “psychotherapy session” with her, which consists of giving free rein to his emotions. The father sets an example and in unprintable terms shouts at the top of his lungs what he thinks about this life. Vada picks up the idea. It’s funny for her: after all, when will it be possible to “officially” swear to your heart’s content, and even in the presence of one of the parents?

Vada enthusiastically shouts curses at the “shooter” and finally admits to herself that she is afraid. The girl is afraid to go to school, afraid to sleep, afraid of people, afraid of life in general… This helps. Vada begins to slowly become closer to family members and friends. She becomes especially close to one of the girls, Mia.

A little later, she meets with the psychologist again. “How are things in general?” she asks. And the girl sincerely says that she feels better – she really feels much better. However, she is still scared to be at school.

“What do you feel?” – continues the psychologist. Vada admits: the strongest feeling she experiences is anger. Because she just can’t understand how “one guy with a gun” could ruin her life like that. “I find it difficult to move on,” she says.

However, Vada moves on and tells her mother about the adventures she has had while trying to cope with the effects of her trauma. The girl’s mother, after hearing everything, is in some shock, but treats Vada with understanding.

Everything seems to be getting better, but soon the girl will have to face something else…

The Fallout Ending explained

Explanation of the ending of the picture. In the finale, Vada receives a message saying that there has been a shooting at another school. Because of this, the girl begins to have a panic attack. This is where the film ends and leaves questions to which you need to look for answers yourself.

From the outset, this film raises the question of whether psychological trauma can heal over time and whether terrible events can be forgotten. Throughout the film, we witness how Vada tries to cope with all her emotions on her own. In the end, she finally opens up to the psychologist and confides in her father, and then her mother. After this, we have hope that the girl has a chance to return to normal school life.

However, after Vada learns about another school shooting, this bubble soon bursts and everything returns to normal. The meaning of the ending of the film The Fallout is that the main character’s faith in her own safety has been shaken. And you can understand it: how can you live calmly in the world when you don’t know what will happen in the next moment? The answer to this question remains open.

The meaning of the film The Fallout

At first glance, the film The Fallout seems completely unremarkable. However, despite the fact that there are no complex plot twists that require multiple interpretations, and riddles that require searching for clues, this is not the case.

Firstly, the plot of the film raises the serious topic of shooting (“school shooting” is translated as “school shooting”), which has become relevant not only for the USA, but also for other countries. And secondly, the director focuses on the problem of PTSD, which is very important at all times.

Will Ropp of the film The Fallout
Will Ropp as Nick. Still from the film The Fallout

The attack on the school itself takes place in the first 10 minutes of the film, and the further fate of the shooter remains behind the scenes. The main focus of the film is on how Vada tries to cope with shock and devastation. The girl becomes more withdrawn, withdraws from her loved ones and, wanting to forget the horrors of that terrible day, even tries alcohol and drugs. But is it possible to forget this? And is it finally possible, after everything that has happened, to live as before?

The sound of gunfire constantly rings in Vada’s ears. The scary thing is not that returning to school where a tragedy occurred, it’s difficult to just leave the house. Looking into the eyes of those who have lost their loved ones is painful and uncomfortable. Because when meeting them, the bitter question is: “Why did you survive and they didn’t?” hangs in the air. There is no answer to this – no one should have died…

Many viewers in their analysis of the film note that it leaves a very bitter aftertaste. After watching it, it’s impossible not to think about how much injustice and loss there can be in the life of any person. It is especially difficult when everything that happened is not the fault of this person himself. However, no one cares about this – that’s it, life has already turned upside down, there is no turning back.

When adults experience a terrible life blow, that’s one thing. But in this picture we are talking about children. Vada is still a very young girl with her typical teenage aspirations and hopes. And then this… She experienced severe stress and the accompanying depression, fear and constant anxiety, as if they were shackling her with steel hoops, preventing her from living a normal life.

Maddie Ziegler of the film The Fallout
Maddie Ziegler stars as Mia. Still from the film The Fallout

It is very difficult not to break down and lose the meaning of life in such a situation. Probably only really close people and good psychologists can help a person not to drown in his thoughts and cope with the influx of difficult emotions. This is what happens. They were the ones who essentially saved Vada from self-destructive behavior.

It is noteworthy that in “The Consequence” there are no unnecessary tears, hysterics or screams – the atmosphere in the film is very restrained. And this approach hits even harder. We understand that this is not a typical tear-squeezer – unfortunately, each of us can go through the same horror.

Megan Park does not research the issue of school pranking. There are no reflections on the topic “why” or hidden meaning in her painting. The essence of the film The Fallout lies elsewhere. Each mise-en-scène of the picture suggests that feeling pain is natural. It’s normal to withdraw into your shell, it’s normal to feel anxious—these are absolutely normal reactions to stress. In the end, everyone has their own pain threshold and not everyone is able to immediately “let go of the situation”, especially after a tragedy – for many it takes years…

The picture leaves behind a sad aftertaste. However, I still want to hope that even after such a finale, everything will be fine for Vada and the other guys. Not now, but later – but it will definitely happen.

Julie Bowen of the film The Fallout
Julie Bowen as Patricia. Still from the film The Fallout

Similar films

Here are several films that are somewhat similar in meaning to the film The Fallout:

  • Mysterious Skin (USA, Netherlands, 2004). The plot centers on the fate of Brian, who had to endure something terrible as a child.
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene (USA, 2011). Having escaped from the sect, Martha is trying to restore her psyche and return to normal life.
  • Reign Over Me (USA, 2007). During the September 11 terrorist attack, Charlie’s life lost all meaning. However, fate brings him together with a friend of his youth.
  • Thank You for Your Service USA, India, 2017). The film tells about veterans of the Iraq war who cannot integrate into civilian life.
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