After Review: Why Is This a Thing?


Gavin Clingham, Staff Writer

I know that I’m no stranger to writing articles in which I talk about how much I miss seeing movies in movie theaters. Back in June, I was just waiting for a movie, any movie, to be announced as an in-theater release in 2020. Wishful thinking, or so I thought. I was surprised to find a trailer for a movie coming in October. I knew close to nothing about this film other than its name: After We Collided. I clicked on it and then my excitement fell faster than an asteroid hitting the earth. It was a sequel to After. The bloody Harry Styles fanfiction flick got a sequel.

Why? As AWC (After We Collided) was getting its theatrical release and sadly becoming one of the highest grossing films in the pandemic, I chose to ignore it. I was not giving Wattpad my money. I wasn’t even going to see it, even ironically, because I didn’t want to waste my time, patience, money, and dignity in seeing it. Then I saw that it earned the spot of the #1 most watched movie on Netflix which actually made me want to scream. Even Netflix started promoting this with memes on Instagram. So I decided to see the two movies to completely bash them for the overrated films that they are. I’ll start off with the first: After.

After starts off by showing goody two shoes Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) as she arrives at college. She is led in by her borderline psychopathic mother (Selma Blair) and her boyfriend Noah (Dylan Arnold). She arrives and already makes her mother try to get her sent to another dorm room when her roommate (Khadijha Red Thunder) is shown to be vaping and inviting Tessa to a party. All of a sudden, her life begins to change as she walks back to her room and sees a boy lying in her bed reading a book (I am not kidding). As she kindly asks him to leave her room and let her change, she finds that Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) just kind of stays in the bed and ignores her pleas for him to give her privacy. He just creepily lies on the bed and continues to read a book for some reason. When he finally leaves after a scene that went on for way too long, Tessa realizes she can’t stop thinking about him. He reads books, and she reads books, so they must be perfect together. Pretty soon, Tessa starts to completely fall for him.

Hardin as he reads a book and refuses to give privacy. (

I have seen several amazing romantic relationships in so many amazing movies. For example, look at Pat and Tiffany in Silver Lining’s Playbook, Lloyd and Diane in Say Anything…, Jim and Pam in The Office, or even Scott and Ramona in Scott Pilgrim vs the World. When I see these couples in these movies, I can’t help but think about how they are truly in love. When I see Hardin and Tessa, I see no love. I see the most toxic relationship ever put to film. The only time they truly seem to even barely like one another is when there’s a montage. No setup or implication that they were happy before then. It’s okay to have a couple be happy in a montage but with the previous clips, it seems like it does not agree with them at all. It feels like they wanted to capture the five seconds before they encapsulate a toxic relationship. After relies on montages to show that the two are in love. Each montage is even scored with a love-like pop song to do the trick. And if that doesn’t work, do not worry. With the benefit of having no composer, the film is instead scored by pop songs that are definitely louder than the dialogue. Sure, Quentin Tarantino usually scores his films with actual songs but he picks songs that effectively work as a score, but he makes sure none of his brilliant dialogue is overpowered by the songs. With After, it seems like the producers gathered as many pop songs as they could afford to put in the movie and used all of them. The songs try so hard to paint the picture that these two are in love, but it feels way too forced. It still can’t distract me from the fact that Dani and Christian from Midsommar had a better, healthier relationship than these two (this is hilarious to the brave souls that watched Midsommar). 

This whole experiment of how many times can I roll my eyes and sigh out loud is worsened by the writing. I am astounded that this film had four WRITERS and the dialogue still sounds like something from my Spy Kids-inspired movie that I wrote when I was eight. I mean, all the dialogue just seems so awkward. Not even intentionally awkward as if it were an uncomfortable scene in The Office. No, everything just has to sound really awkward when you’re not getting some pop song blasted in your ear. There was a story I read that said the original author wanted creative freedom, so she rejected the studio Paramount for Aviron, who ended up producing the film. I can’t help but feel like Paramount could’ve hired somewhat better writers since they have earned enough credibility. However, I do think they should get some credit because they did not use a lot of the messed up plot points in the book. The book’s writer claimed that this wasn’t as faithful to the book as she wanted it to be, but if it was faithful to her true image, this could’ve been the worst film ever made.

The acting is also pretty low tier. I can’t go too hard on the actors but it really felt like a lot of the cast didn’t really feel like trying. Yes, it’s poor writing, but it’s easy for an actor to make the best of a horrible line. Think about Nicolas Cage. He’s been in a few pretty bad movies but he’s been able to bring his trademark craziness to absolutely make gold out of a horrible line. I don’t want to be mean to the actors because I know this isn’t quite their fault, but the already awkward lines are made even more awkward with very uncomfortable delivery. It also seems like either the director gave everyone horrible advice on how to perform the scene, or he was really too afraid to try and correct anyone. 

Even with all this, I have one true problem with this movie. It’s that this film is actually liked. That this made $69 million worldwide and that it convinced the studio that there needed to be THREE sequels to this movie. I’d be ok with it if this was just regarded like every Lifetime movie, but when you’re gonna give this movie three high budget sequels when there are thousands of talented filmmakers who can’t even get a studio to take an idea, I realize why independent movies go under the radar. At school, I will never be able to find a person that has watched Sing Street, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Brooklyn, or The Edge of Seventeen in the entire building. I won’t be able to find people that watched these brilliant films that portray love wonderfully, but I bet I can find at least 25 people who watched After and at least 5 people that are ready to preorder tickets to After We Fell. I just hate that some movies are forced to stay indie, but a One Direction fanfiction is able to become a $115 million franchise. Also, why do series like I Am Not Okay With This and movies like The French Dispatch get delayed or canceled due to COVID restrictions but the third movie to this inexplicably successful franchise is currently filming? This is just a bad movie that really is getting so much more than it deserves. I’d watch the romantic Colonel Sanders movie Recipe for Seduction twice rather than watch After again. At least it embraces that it’s deeply ridiculous rather than try to take itself seriously. I know now that watching this second movie is not going to be easy for me to do. But nevertheless, I must do it.