[CW/TW: gun violence, grief]
If Anything Happens I Love You is a 12-minute animated short film packing an incredible emotional punch. Written and directed by Michael Govier and Will McCormack, the silent film explores the grief and pain of parents who lost their daughter during a school shooting in the United States.
The film opens with the camera slowly panning into the house from a bird’s eye view, transitioning to show the mother and father sitting at opposite ends of the table eating dinner, sitting in absolute silence as the sound of silverware clanking against their plates fills the room. The muted sketch-style black and white scene evokes the couple's loneliness and agony as they navigate the world around them without their daughter, with the use of negative space further contributing to this visual sense of loss. We witness their subconsciousness in the form of shadows yelling and arguing at each other as they both separately attempt to find different ways to heal.
Throughout the film, colorized details stick out against the predominantly greyscale backdrop: the blue paint mark on the wall created from their daughter playing soccer, her t-shirt souvenir from a family trip, and the balloons from her 10th birthday party. King Princess's "1950" plays as the parents recall these memories of their daughter, contributing to a heartbreaking nostalgia. It’s simply gut-wrenching to watch.
As the film continues, the tragic events of that day are slowly revealed. The parents' shadows envelop the girl, desperately trying to stop her from walking through the doors of the school. Their formlessness feels disempowering in contrast with the more defined, physical world. Moments later, the sound of gunshots and the screams of children are all we can hear, and the colorful American flag outside the classroom fades into black, with red and blue pigments emerging as sirens grow louder. During the chaos, the daughter quickly sends a message to her parents: “If anything happens I love you.”
The film leaves a lasting impression, making you think about the immense pain and suffering experienced by parents who have lost their child during a school shooting. Rather than sensationalizing the violence itself, the film focuses on the aftermath, the grief, and the trauma of experiencing such extreme loss. It’s short, silent, and simple, but this film is sure to leave you in tears by the end.