It's has become tradition to review the 'After' masterpieces of cinema every year since we were first introduced to Tessa and Hardin in 2019. But last year, New South Wales and Victoria were in lockdown, so the third film in the franchise was moved from its original theatrical release to a streaming one, and 'After We Fell' debuted on Amazon Prime last October here in Australia. The steaming chapter was the most forgettable of the bunch at the time, having the least amount of stakes - I mean, Tessa literally gets hit by car in the third act, and this is just to tack on an extra 10 minutes of run-time as it has absolutely no consequences, but it teased the ending of the franchise was coming. Now, 'After Ever Happy' (the most confusing title ever put to screen) brings the franchise back to the cinema for its steamy end... or so we thought.
Picking up right where we left off - and even with a handy recap in case you wiped your memory of the previous film - Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin, 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince') now knows his dad wasn't in fact alcoholic and abusive Ken (Rob Estes, TV's '90210') but Vance (Stephen Moyer, 'Concussion', TV's 'True Blood'), who has just married Kimberley (Arielle Kebbel, 'Fifty Shades Freed'); who any of these people are, I couldn't tell you. This sends Hardin back to his bad boy ways and his drinking while pushing Tessa (Josephine Langford, 'Wish Upon') away from him. This is the final straw for Tessa, until a tragedy happens in her life causing him to come back to her. But this isn't easy for either them, and begs the question - will they end up happily ever after?
'AFTER EVER HAPPY' TRAILER
Right out the gate we have to talk about the fact this film 'After Ever Happy' is adapted from the final book in the series - however this film has the audacity to end on a "To Be Continued" and a fifth film 'After Everything' will conclude the Tessa and Hardin story next year. This yet again accentuates the problem all four of the films have had in that they just are so bland and amount to nothing. Every film has our core couple breaking up and getting back together literally every 10 minutes and the same problems from the first film. There are franchises that can't get off the ground, yet 'After' will have five films of the same stakes and plot; it's insane.
But the real reason we come back yearly to these films isn't the characters or even the plot, it's the truly wild cheese. Oh boy, buckle up this time around, when Tessa and Hardin break up for the I think the fourth time in this film alone, she is remembering their steamy relationship and we see her walking around the apartment and reminiscing about them in different spots. When it gets to the last one, they disappear and turn to dust - very 'Avengers: Infinity War' - but they felt the need to leave a pile of CGI rumble and dust - very disturbing and insane. At another break-up, Hardin runs outside and screams straight into the camera, and I haven't been able to sleep since. We also have to highlight Tessa's bangs that she gets towards the end of the film, where it appears they have just rested a wig over the actress' hair... and it's a hot mess. There's another big one: the film's finale reveal and another break-up point for the two lovers, but it's a spoiler and you need to be able to experience that wildness for yourself.
The real reason we come back yearly to these films isn't the characters or even the plot, it's the truly wild cheese.
'After Ever Happy' is the worst (so far) in the series, both for just how bland it is and that no stakes have changed since the first film in 2019. 'After We Collided' seemed to understand the campiness of the franchise, but the last two have been tough slogs to get through. While 'Ever Happy' has some wild moments it's instantly forgettable, though it could have been noteworthy if it did actually wrap the series, but as is, it's another awful middle piece of this story. Anyway, I'll see you all next year for the epically mediocre conclusion - and of course the prequel film 'Before', and the untilled spin-offs... oh dear god!