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The Jaguar Journal

The Jaguar Journal

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After: The Pentology

A bad film and the landscape of fanfiction
The main characters of After; Tessa (Josephine Langford) and Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin)

A PG-13 106 minute film, 90 of those minutes consist of pure agony, terrible chemistry, angst, and the two main characters not being able to keep their hands to theirself. This film starts off with Tessa, the seemingly “good girl”, predictable, studious, rule following, YA main character. She was raised by her single mom, who in the beginning of the movie drops her off at her college with her supposed boyfriend. 

This film is predictable, with a the plot and the characters, you could spot the plot twist from a mile away. For those who haven’t read the book this movie is based off of, After, this pentology of novels is a Harry Styles fanfic. These books originated from Wattpad, an application used to write novels and fanfiction and is used as a road for many aspiring authors and for many that just want to write or read fanfiction.

The film kicks off with Tessa’s roommate invites her to a party, which she goes to, but not before being insulted for her outfit choices. In spite of that, she begins mingling with other students, all until when the group wants to play truth or dare. Tessa is dared to kiss our male lead, Hardin, who in the original books is based on Harry Styles, and is characterized in the movies as an even more predictable English bad boy with daddy issues. Tessa leaves the game rejecting Hardin, and wanders around house inevitably ending up in Hardin’s room. Hardin makes a move on her which she rejects, again, predictably. 

At this point in the plot, one may lie back and reflect on why they chose to sit down and spend 2 hours paying attention to this particular film. When flicking through reviews, one finds that they are extremely polarized, containing only 5 star and 1 star reviews. The 5 star reviews sound like they are written by either 12 year olds or people who have never seen a movie in their lives. Frankly, the one star reviews are hilarious, it is also full of people complaining about how the movie is nothing like the book, and how the entirety of the movie is the lead cast making out. 

This movie being born of the world of fanfiction brings a completely new idea light. There are two types of fanfiction writers, one which writes as if they were possessed by the spirit of the Bard himself, and the other which is probably a hormonal 12-year-old. There is no gradient between the good and bad worlds of fanfiction, they either prove to be terrific or horrible.

Skipping through some of the unneeded plot, Tessa and Hardin are in the same class, and the topic of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice comes up. Hardin speaks out about how dumb he believes the book was while Tessa argues against him, citing how iconic the novel has been. They go back and forth while the audience rolls their eyes for probably the 7th time.

A long while later in the film, Hardin takes Tessa to a forest, for no reason, it feels so out of place, and it really shows how Tessa has the survival instincts of a croissant, she goes with Hardin to a lake and they swim together and kiss, keep in mind, Tessa supposedly hates Hardin. After this they go to a restaurant and get something to eat. Hardins friends show up and Tessa leaves, once she goes back to her dorm she sees her boyfriend, and this is where the entire audience groans because of how guilt free Tessa looks, especially after kissing another guy. They both hang out all day the next day and you can just see the jealousy seeping out from Hardins ears. 

After some unimportant scenes, Tessa and her unimportant boyfriend are hanging out in her dorm and they are both sleeping, Tessa gets a call to go to Hardins house, and we find out about Hardins daddy issues and Tessa stays there all night to comfort him after and argument with his dad. Tessa comes back to her dorm room a couple hours later to see her boyfriend standing outside the dorm building and questioning her where she went, he sees Hardin behind her and realizes how Tessa is cheating on him, FINALLY, he breaks up with his cheating girlfrined and leaves to go back home. 

At this point the audiece is probably constantly dozing off because of how boring the film gets the more into it one could get. For the next 20 minutes all Tessa and Hardin do is make out, not a single other thing than make out, absolutely nothing, but make out. With 15 minutes left in the film Tessa finds out it was a bet, Hardin and Tessa fell in love in terms of a bet. Tessa is heart broken, and the next 13 minutes is her mooching around being sad and fixing friendships, and FINALLY, the end of the the movie, where the audience was sitting up waiting for the credits scene to finally get up and do something worth more of their time. At the end of the movie, Tessa is in class when the teacher hands her Hardin’s assignment and tells her that it was meant for Tessa more than herself. The entire assignment is literally Hardin talking about how he learned that love isn’t dumb and that he found his love. Thats it, the end of the movie, it felt unreal, 2 hours of pain finally over. 

Jokes aside, this movie never really highlights the fact that it is a work of fanfiction, and those who knew, just knew. Fanfiction has always been something for people to keep living in a fandom, even when it is over, people would still have more content to consume, these facfictions cover the walls of popular apps like Archive of Our Own and Wattpad, for many reading fanfiction and writting it is very common and its a repeating habit, but for others, fanfiction is something they have never heard of. After, being the terrible movie it is shows us how fanfiction can be something more than just a story expanding upon the characters that are there. It is a pathway for aspiring authors to have a plot to attach to when wanting to get into writing. It is a new form of entertainment and a new hobby. 

Fanfiction may always be called dumb, but what some people need to realize is that it expands upon a fandom in ways that are at times unimaginable. These works open up a whole new world of possibilities, like being made into its own movie. Despite the fact that most of the time, fanfiction-based movies are absolutely terrible. To lovers of any fandom it is vital, to the connoisseurs of fan-made works they are priceless. What people don’t see is how fun and interesting fanfiction can be. Fanfiction can make any fandom or canon bigger than what is imagined in the authors mind. 

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About the Contributor
Priya Balla, Reporter
Staff Reporter
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