“If Anything Happens I Love You” breaks hearts

“If Anything Happens I Love You” is a moving and heart-sinking short film that Netflix released in November. The film tells the story of two parents grieving the loss of their young daughter, who was killed in a school shooting. Although the duration of the short is a mere 12 minutes, any viewer will surely find themselves deeply impacted and contemplating the experience for long after the initial watch.

The young girl’s parents are displayed in their home in the opening scene, grieving their daughter and remembering her fondly. Most of the film has no color and is a pencil-like animation, but the young girl’s possessions lying round the house are bright colors, and the viewer is taken back in time to when she was alive to see her experiences growing up before the tragedy.

The short contains a variety of music during different scenes. The majority is mellow instrumental music, but while the viewer is witnessing the young girl’s experiences, and in a way, getting to know her, a cheerful pop song is played, creating a contrasting effect to the short film’s overall dark mood. Besides music, the film contains light sound effects but no dialogue whatsoever, bringing the animation and art to the spotlight to convey a deeper and more impactful story. 

A little over half way through the short film, the girl makes her way into a school building. Inside, an American flag is hung above classroom doors in bright blue and red colors. Then gunshots and screams are heard. The scene then cuts to the young girl’s phone, where she sends one last text message to her parents: “If anything happens I love you.”

The film is not based on one true story, but the daughter’s last message to her parents and the title of the film could be a reference to the Parkland shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a 19-year-old student came onto campus with a gun and killed 17 people. While the active shooter was on campus, many students called or sent goodbye texts to their parents, just like the daughter in the short film.

In America, we have seen a drastic increase in school shootings over the past decade. According to Everytown, a support fund for gun safety, there have been at least 161 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in the U.S. since 2013, killing 218 people and injuring 435. 

While “If Anything Happens I Love You” is not a light or even an enjoyable watch, it is important to watch to understand just a fraction of some of the tragedies that have occurred in the past. Countless parents have had to mourn the loss of their children who did not deserve to die. It is with films like this where we can learn to empathize with them, and understand that our country is far from perfect.