Released: 10th September
Seen: 11th September
2019 brought the hit series After to cinemas and… it was awful. A bland flavourless movie that only exists because the One Direction fanfiction it’s based on did well online. It made about $12 million on a $14 million budget and in a fair world that would mean the series died there… of course, that’s just the domestic total. Worldwide, After made (I swear I’m not joking here) $69 million and therefore it was going to get a sequel. Now, the first film was spectacularly bland so surely the second film is going to be just as bland right? Right?
…So, this is somehow less original than 50 Shades of Grey and a lot less interesting.
After We Collided picks up a month after it was revealed that Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) only dated Tessa (Josephine Langford) as part of a bet and in that time things have gotten Darker… as in Fifty Shades Darker. Tessa now works at an assistant to the owner of a publishing house which ends up putting her in close proximity to the quiet Trevor (Dylan Spouse) who seems to have a thing for her. Meanwhile Hardin keeps having nightmares about his tragic childhood and is basically stalking Tessa and getting jealous every time he sees her so much as look at another man. Tessa has to try and make it in the world of publishing while also dealing with her relationship with Hardin, while Hardin… well, he isn’t expected to do anything because he’s only here because the original story had him being Harry Styles and Harry Styles doesn’t need to improve or grow, why should Hardin.
The original film may have been boring, but boredom would be preferable to the actively irritating film I sat through. After We Collided is almost actively testing the audience to see if they have the spine to get up and walk out while yelling “Fuck you Hardin, I hope you get some kind of wasting disease that eats your dick” because most of the film is spent with Hardin screaming, whining, almost in tears, throwing things, in general acting like a complete dick for the entire film. This is the lead, the romantic lead who we are meant to want to see improve in some way. I didn’t, I wanted to watch him jump out a window and free poor Tessa from having to deal with his bullshit.
It doesn’t help that this film lifts SO much from Fifty Shades Darker. We’re talking things like how Tessa has a job at a publisher, Hardin using GPS to track Tessa down, a strange three way relationship and even having the final act take place at a big party where a wedding proposal happens and the third wheel of the main relationship looks like he’s planning something evil. Hell, they even do the “Main character gets into an accident and then is perfectly fine 3 minutes later” thing that Freed did, except Freed did it with a helicopter and this movie just does a regular car accident… for no reason, it’s fine, it just happens.
A lot of this film just happens, to say there’s an actual narrative progression would be kinder than this film deserves. Tessa goes and does a thing, Hardin turns up, SEX, repeat for an hour and forty five minutes. That’s it, that’s literally it. Maybe if the sex scenes were in any way exciting or the actors had chemistry maybe it’d work, but nope. There’ literally one scene where I believed that the two main characters liked each other, one shower scene where I actually went “Oh, that’s a couple that likes each other as people. It was a glorious 2 minutes where I believed that these characters should be left alone in the same room… and then it was over and I wanted to hide the sharp objects so Hardin didn’t throw them or something.
Say what you will about 50 Shades of Grey (and I have, regularly) at least Christian Grey was actually attractive and obscenely wealthy so I could get why you would look past his myriad of flaws. What the hell does Hardin have that justifies his behavior, which switches between manipulative, babyish and abusive? Well, the fact he was originally Harry Styles might explain why this character behaves like such an irredeemable asshole for the entire film. This kind of behavior coming from the guy who sang Watermelon Sugar can be ignored in favour of the prestige of being Harry Styles… remove that name and you’re just left with an irredeemable asshole who I hate.
I have sat here desperately trying to think of something that might redeem this film. Maybe, MAYBE I can say that Dylan Sprouse’s performance is actually good (Shocker, the guy who has literally been on camera since he was 1 year old is actually a good actor) but he’s only the best because no one else is trying and he’s the only character who seems to have his head on straight and call things out for what they are. He is the voice of reason and sanity… and we’re meant to hate him for it.
Look, if I wanted to watch Fifty Shades Darker then I’d go watch Fifty Shades Darker, because that’s all this is… except somehow worse. After We Collided rips off Darker and somehow makes a bad film worse by making everything more bland and uninteresting. It’s not funny, it’s not sexy, it’s not romantic, it’s a poorly written piece of excrement and I genuinely hope that this pandemic means the box office for this film tanks so that we’re spared from anymore of this drek.