Is Netflix’s If Anything Happens I Love You a True Story?

‘If Anything Happens I Love You’ is an animated short film that follows two parents grieving the death of their daughter in a school shooting. The film is directed and written by Will McCormack and Michael Govier. The 12-minute short released on November 20, 2020, on Netflix. Since the film looks at the aftermath of a death in the family – a very relatable and real experience – many wonder if this particular story is true. Here is what we found!

Is If Anything Happens I Love You Based on a True Story?

Yes, ‘If Anything Happens I Love You’ is based on a true story. However, the film is not based on one particular family. For helming the film, Will McCormack and Michael Govier met many parents who lost their children to gun violence in school, hoping to honor their courage and acknowledge their pain. They also worked closely with Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence.

The duo admired the organization’s work and even showed them the script before they started the animation work on this film and screened the finished film for the organization’s inputs, prior to its release. Death is a universal experience that each of us has felt the impact of directly or indirectly. Hope becomes an essential part of resilience and how we move on in life; Govier wanted to bring this out in the film.

The parents go over the memories of their daughter and imagine what it would be like for her to grow up. Eventually, it is the memory of what they shared as a family that brings them close once again. Over the years, gun violence has been a significant issue in the U.S., and multiple works of art and entertainment have thrown light on the subject. You may remember Donald Glover’s music video ‘This Is America,’ which addresses this issue.

One Tree Hill,’ ‘Glee,’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ also include school shootings in their storylines for a couple of episodes. The last text message that the daughter sends to the mother in this film reads, “If anything happens I love you.” This echoes the 2018 incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when parents received goodbye messages from their children. Seventeen people lost their lives in the shooting incident.

Most importantly, the film focuses on the people who outlive the person who is no more and how it affects their relationships. Studies have shown that emotional distance and increased conflict are typical in couples who have lost a child. If the child was the glue to the marriage, the couple must put in more effort to rebuild their relationship on a different foundation. At the beginning of the film, we see how the shadows of the parents communicate something different from what they are actually doing.

The silence and the morose atmosphere conveys that the two must have experienced something horrible, but the shadows seem to be arguing. The end of the film sees the parents coming to terms with the tragedy and making an effort to reconnect with each other. The touching closing scene shows the parents hugging, as a bright figure in the shape of their daughter illuminates the space between their shadows.

Read More: Best Short Films on Netflix