The recently-released animation film on Netflix, If Anything Happens I Love You, deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. Focusing on the parents of a young girl, it sheds light on the painful process of grappling with the loss of a loved one.
Through a range of heart-breaking scenes, it shows how challenging it can be to stumble upon a long-abandoned soccer ball or discover an old shirt stuck in the washing machine. Is the movie based on a true story?
'If Anything Happens I Love You' draws on real events, but it isn't based on one true story.
To create the animation, writer and director duo Will McCormack and Michael Govier arranged consultations with parents who lost their children to gun violence, as per The Cinemaholic.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit advocating for gun control, played a crucial role in the making of the movie as well. They provided feedback on the script and the final cut, the outlet reveals.
Executive produced by Laura Dern, Jayme Lemons, and others, the 12-minute-long animation aims to shed light on how bereavement affects married couples.
"The fact it spoke that it spoke so beautifully to the issue at hand was miraculous in a dialogue-less way and to be able to reach everyone was something we found so moving ... The way the filmmakers and the animators captured that untold story of grieving and how we live amongst memory, was so palpable," Laura told Variety.
Through the use of symbolically-charged imagery (one of the few things depicted in color is a blue t-shirt once owned by the couple's young daughter) the movie offers an easy-to-understand portrayal of grief.
"We wanted to create an elegy for these parents who have dealt with that grief that no one should have to go through," Will explained in a previous interview with Animation Scoop.
"You're watching a grieving process. I do think there's hope within it because you’re seeing the human spirit and how much the human spirit can endure and go forward. That is a huge testament to all of us and also to survivors – and also the ones who were lost," Michael added.
Instead of focusing on particular events, the filmmakers opted to depict more generic scenes.
Aside from a few tropes that help orientate the viewer — the Stars and Stripes hanging in the school corridor, the vinyl player found in the little girl's room, the use of "1950," a hit song by King Princess on the soundtrack — the movie doesn't contain cues to a specific tragedy.
The title nods to a crucial scene towards the end of the movie, in which the little girl sends one last text message to her parents.
"If anything happens I love you," she writes.
According to Decider, the title might be a reference to the Parkland shooting, which saw a 19-year-old gunman walk into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018. He killed 17 people, leaving many others injured.
The text depicted on If Anything Happens I Love You mimics the style of those sent by school children during the atrocity, as per Decider.
If Anything Happens I Love You is available on Netflix now.