Warning: This post contains spoilers for the movie After.
You have to feel for Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) and Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), the young lovers at the center of the movie After. They're locked in a tumultuous cycle they just can't break: hook up, break-up, wash, and repeat. After ends on a cliff-hanger for the couple — but one gets the sense it's but a chapter in their unfolding story.
Technically, that's because it is. After is based on the Wattpad fan-fic sensation-turned-novel of the same name by Anna Todd. If the After series is anything to go by, then Tessa and Hardin's story will only get more tumultuous in upcoming movies.
Where does After leave off in the #Hessa Saga?
Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) enters freshman year of college with a concrete life plan. She’ll wear skirts that fall to the mid-knee, Skype with her wildly earnest high school boyfriend (Dylan Arnold), and field calls from her mother (Selma Blair) asking about her grades. She’ll graduate. She’ll do something practical with her life.
Then, she meets a gruff, tattooed English major named Hardin Scott and said plans go flying out the window before she could miss them. She enters full Sexual Awakening mode.
Many makeout sessions later, Tessa learns the truth about the origin of her relationship with Hardin. Like many teen movie bad boys that came before him, Hardin first approached Tessa out of a dare. Even worse, there's incriminating video evidence of Hardin declaring to his friends he'd make Tessa fall in love with him.
After the betrayal, Tessa moves home and rebuilds her life. But she's still hung up on Hardin; at last, she's as brooding as he is. At the end of the movie, she and Hardin meet at the lake — their "spot" — indicating a possible (read: definite) reconciliation in their future.
What would future After movies be about?
Is there material for a sequel, you ask? Well: Have you ever seen a stack of Anna Todd's collected After novels? Coming in at 2,992 pages, a stack of Anna Todd's After series could at least intimidate a stack of Harry Potter books (4,224 pages).
The order is as follows: After We Collided, After We Fell, After Ever Happy, and Before, a prologue told through Hardin's point of view. Some highlights from the next thousand-plus pages include many arguments, a trip to England and a voyage into Hardin's trouble past, Hardin's successful career as a writer, and an answer to whether Hardin and Tessa actually end up together.
But will there be a sequel to After, the movie?
Obviously, there's oodles of material for future installments in Tessa and Hardin's romance. Both Anna Todd, the book's author, and the movie's stars have referenced the possibility of more After movies. Todd revealed to the International Business Times that she's set to write the second script.
Ultimately, future sequels are contingent on how well After performs — especially among its fanbase. After wasn't made to impress critics (and it didn't; the movie clocks in at a 13% Rotten Tomatoes score). It was engineered to appeal to the series' devoted followers, responsible for Todd's books selling more than 15 million copies worldwide.
In a post on her Instagram story over the weekend, star Josephine Langford reminded fans to show up to theaters. “If you’re not too busy, I recommend that you go and give it a cheeky watch. We have so much more of the story to tell and would love to continue telling it," Langford wrote.
Not that the fans needed reminding from Langford. #Hessa devotees showed up; the fans had opinions. The locus of their gripe was with movie's milder Hardin Scott, less prone to psychological manipulation and coercion than the book's. "Why did you change Hardin Scott so drastically?" one fan wrote in a two-page letter, posted to Twitter. "I totally get that you had to make him softer, but the person on the screen is in no, way, shape, or form the Hardin Scott that we know and love. He's not a bad boy, and does not seem harsh and rude at all."
Still, Todd expected a heated reaction from fans. "I think the reaction to be mixed, to be honest. They’re going to love it but there’s going to be the normal,’ We miss this part from the book,'" Todd told Refinery29. " As a reader I’ve done that with every adaptation, so I totally get it."
The reaction is fitting, considering the whole point of the After series is eliciting feelings from fans. Fans can have feelings about the movie — so long as they show up.