“If Anything Happens I Love You is a silent, animated, short film that chronicles the cavernous grief caused by the loss of a child, but not just any kind of loss — the loss of a child to gun violence via a school shooting.”
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was searching Netflix for another Christmas holiday classic to distract me from the news cycle, and I came across the animated, short film, If Anything Happens I Love You. It was only 12 minutes long and I thought, why not?
If Anything Happens I Love You is a silent, animated, short film that chronicles the cavernous grief caused by the loss of a child, but not just any kind of loss — the loss of a child to gun violence via a school shooting. She was the light of her parents’ lives. She was their only daughter. She was only 10-years-old. In 12 minutes, writer/director team Will McCormack and Michael Govier take us on a tour of the wreckage of the home and hearts left devastated by the death of a daughter. Even the cat looks for her, trying to understand what happened.
Grief can isolate people as they process its stages, and the events surrounding its cause. Grief can end a marriage – leaving two deaths in its wake rather than one. Yet, this film offers hope as the little girl attempts to bring her grieving parents back together through shared memories, and ultimately forgiveness. If Anything Happens I Love You serves as a gentle reminder for us to turn toward each other, rather than away. This poignant, heart-gripping tale reminds each of us to cherish our loved ones, and if we should lose them, to allow their memory to bring comfort and peace.
As we approach the 8th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, the film serves as a not-so-gentle reminder that school shootings are on the rise in America today. Some say it is because our children don’t have proper coping mechanisms. Some say kids lack problem solving abilities because of their unbroken relationship with technology. In some cases, we may have to pry the electronics from their clenched fists and teach them how to engage the world differently.
Most importantly, this film compels us to do something about the gun lobby. While school custodians mop up the blood of our children in hallways, the gun lobby uses money and power to silence legislators who in wake of these shootings, could affect change. There were 45 school shootings in 2019, and hundreds before then, yet there is no federal database with information on school shootings. Luckily, CNN created its own database, and while it only goes back to 2009, the data is chilling. The metrics underscore the fact that school shootings do not discriminate based upon locale or socio-economic background. Contrary to popular belief, the suburbs will not save you. School shootings are everyone’s problem. Our children deserve to be safe at school and to have long, happy lives minus this trauma. We must demand that for them – period.
COVID-19 is disrupting the cheer of the holiday season, and maybe a movie about the aftermath of a school shooting doesn’t help, but If Anything Happens I Love You is worth the effort. In fact, it is a must-see film about an important issue. IMDB.com aptly calls the film, “an elegy on grief.” Visually, it is simple yet effective. Narratively it is heart-rending just like grief. While If Anything Happens I Love You is a silent, animated short film, it addresses a topic about which we must not remain silent. Sometimes these kinds of films are just the gut punch we need to wake up and do something.
If Anything Happens I Love You is produced by Gilbert Films and Oh Good Productions, and distributed by Netflix. Actress Laura Dern and her producing partner Jayme Lemons are listed among its Executive Producers.
This post was written by Michele R. Brown, who is a graduate of NYU’s Cinema Studies program. She’s a freelance writer/editor. Critical Thinker. Storyteller. Dog Person. Follow her @micheles_pen on Twitter @officiallymicheleonel on Instagram and www.michelespen.com