I’m getting BEAST (2018) vibes from this if it didn’t have the balls to be edgier.
The movie looks like it’s about a young woman going off to college. She goes to a party, meets a mysterious, dark, but compelling young man with a troubled history, but can’t help but strike up a romantic relationship with him.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Josephine Langford (WISH UPON ), Hero Fiennes Tiffin (HARRY POTTER: HALF-BLOOD ), Selma Blair (HELLBOY , and 2 , and LEGALLY BLONDE ), Jennifer Beals (BEFORE I FALL  and THE GRUDGE 2 ), and Meadow Williams (DEN OF THIEVES , and the upcoming BOSS LEVEL ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Jenny Gage, making her feature film debut. Penning the screenplay is Susan McMartin, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Justin Caine Burnett, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Co-cinematographers are Tom Betterton (making his feature film debut) and Adam Silver (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of). Finally, the editor is Michelle Harrison, known for MIDNIGHT SUN (2018).
Overall, this is likely just going to go in one ear and out the other. This is a pure date movie for teen girls who haven’t ever seen CASABLANCA. But I’m looking forward to Selma Blair! She’s immediately why I won’t hate this film! Or… maybe I should see it first before counting my chickens.
This is my honest opinion of: AFTER
Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) is off to her first year of college, intent on being a good student and do something with her life. Despite her mother Carol’s (Selma Blair) disapproval of her new roommate Steph (Khadijha Red Thunder), she’s soon dragged into a party, meeting Steph’s friends, including the British, dark and mysterious, Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin). What starts off as an aggravating relationship becomes a romance. However, the relationship comes with its own complications, as she breaks up with her current boyfriend Noah (Dylan Arnold), her mother disapproves of him, and her friends always give them looks.
Bleh… I’m not surprised that I didn’t like this. I’m not a tween. It’s your prototypical good girl meets bad boy story. If you wanted to guess how a story like that plays out, then you’re right on the money. I can’t be mad that I saw this, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good movie.
Just going to get this out of the way, yes, I loved Selma Blair. In fact, she’s my favorite part of the movie. Some of the dialog she has is so incredibly bad that you just see it in her eyes that she regrets saying yes to this script, which inadvertently made me chortle.
Beyond that, there’s nothing that this movie offers that can be considered “good.”
Tessa moves into a dorm with Steph, who could be considered a negative influence. What do you think is going to happen? She’s going to party, she’s going to drink, she’s going to be told to do things that she doesn’t normally do. You know, stereotypical “good girl breaking out of her shell” stuff. Steph is supposed to be that “slut with the heart of gold” type, but there’s only one scene that really supports that idea, and only lasts a minute. That’s not enough to establish a defined character, so I never really cared about her. It doesn’t help that Khadijha Red Thunder has some pretty awful lines. “Who brings books to college?” Um… everyone? In fact, more than a few students have to BUY their books. Hence, student debt and shit.
Noah’s a pretty pointless character too. Hell, it took a good long time before I even figured out that he was supposed to be her boyfriend. I honestly thought that he was just a loving and supportive younger brother. So you can imagine my discomfort and shock when the two kiss on the lips when they say goodbye. Seriously, I was freaking out of my mind. But then the movie clarifies their relationship, I swallowed the bile that was racing up my throat, and I continued with the movie. But seriously, that information should have been dropped sooner. What makes this even more confusing is how he treats her later on. He’s that character who questions every new experience that she experiences. She starts drinking or partying, he says shit like, “I’m disappointed in you.” Christ, he might as well have been a brother character to Tessa, he’s so condescending toward her. He gets mad, he pays random visits, it’s all a load of clichés and contrivances.
Really, many of the problems can be summed up by just how piss-poor the script is. It’s a jamboree of clichés. You know when two people can’t walk through a door and spend a minute insisting that the other person goes through first? That happens. How about the incredibly pretentious “truth or dare” scene. Tessa says it’s a kids game, but one of the characters, Molly (Inanna Sarkis), insists that they’re more “extreme” with the way they play. Yeah, sure, “where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex?” Please, go to any chat room on the internet, you’ll see what the big leagues are like. Piss the f*** off. Honestly, I wouldn’t even mind this so much, as you can argue that just a practice question. But once it’s revealed that Tessa’s a virgin, suddenly she’s mocked. As if being a virgin is something to be ashamed of. The virgin-shaming here is so 90s, even the 90s are telling this movie to shut the hell up and evolve with the times.
The movie doesn’t even feel like it’s a movie that takes place in a college because there’s so many scenes that are all about peer pressure. “Come on, drink! Just one drink! Have some fun!” Instead of just respecting her wishes. “You should get a tattoo, you should try on a sluttier outfit!” Shit like this just seems way too juvenile to be in a setting like this. Young people have a tendency to gravitate toward those that they think are on their level. Party and social people stick with partying and social people. Bookworms and nerds tend to stick in those circles. It’s just the pecking order of school. That’s not to say that the aforementioned cliques can’t get along, but let’s face it, you don’t often see the popular hot chick casually hanging out with the overweight “Magic the Gathering” players. You just don’t. This movie shouldn’t be that different. Yes, Tessa is pretty and smart. Steph is pretty, but probably not so smart. The point is, she should have had a beat on Tessa the moment they got acquainted and should have known that she’s not someone who often hung out with the party goers, and therefore, wouldn’t have as big an interest in her. That’s not to say that couldn’t change over time and them getting to know their respective lifestyles, but without that stretch of time and general relation to one another, there’s no reason why these two are friends.
The cardinal sin of this romantic drama is that I didn’t buy into the romance. I would accept this movie if the leading lady and gentleman were likable characters. Tessa is serviceable for about fifteen minutes until she meets the real embarrassment of the movie, Hardin. Not that I want to rail on Tiffin or anything, I’m sure he’s a talented and nice enough dude, but his performance in this movie is nothing short of the same performance given by Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies: brooding and creepy as all f***. Hardin gives Tessa every damned reason to not be with him, but for no discernible reason, she finds him compelling and basically starts a romantic relationship with him, simply because he talks lower, quieter, and has a British accent. Of course the defenders are going to tell me, “He’s got a tortured past!” You know what, this isn’t some high school story. The characters present are, by American standards, adults. Grown-ass adults. Having daddy issues because you don’t like the woman he’s getting married to for no reason other than you love your own biological mother is about the most pussy move you can make with a personality. Yes, yes, it’s implied that his father Ken (Peter Gallagher) was a less than kind man in Hardin’s childhood, but we the audience never see that side of the man. To us, he’s a perfectly reasonable and nice guy whom Hardin hates because… bad boy cliché. Remorsefully, Tiffin just has no charm, and therefore, it’s hard to care about Hardin, and because we don’t care about their relationship and have no idea what Tessa sees in him outside of shallow reasons, we don’t care about her.
Overall, there’s not much else to care about. There’s a third act break up, which ends up exactly where you think it’ll end up, there’s creepy stalkers all over this movie, it’s a movie clearly made for paychecks, not for exposure for talent. The acting is boring, the script is terrible, the direction is laughable, it’s a complete nothing film. As a recommendation, leave this to the tweens on date night. Not the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but not good in any way.
My honest rating for AFTER: 2/5
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