The tragic story that tells Netflix’s touching (and beloved) short film
In 12 minutes, the animated short film covers the loss, grief and pain of a couple trying to cope with the death of a child.
The title appears as a cryptic message: “If something happens, I love you”. It was something similar that Alana Koer, a 41-year-old mother, received in the early afternoon of February 14, 2018.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but if something happens to me, I love you unconditionally,” signed the 17-year-old son, who at that moment was afraid of death and was barricaded in a classroom.
The 12-minute animated short that’s a hit on Netflix these days doesn’t immediately warn you of what’s to come. It doesn’t take a dialogue – and it doesn’t need it either – to crush the stiffest heart in just a few minutes.
The short film was written by Will McCormack and Michael Govier and deals with a sensitive and very topical subject. At the center of the story of “If Something Happens I Love You” is a couple in deep pain that we can quickly see is due to their daughter’s death.
In a little more than ten minutes, the work, produced by Laura Dern and animated by an all-female team, immerses itself in the consequences of grief, of a life that was ruined by the memory of a tragedy.
The tragedy, though never explicitly revealed, is (more) a shootout at an American school. And while the story goes that there is no faithful adaptation of a true case, it does pick up traces that come straight from the testimony of parents who saw their children die in those massacres to which the United States has unfortunately become accustomed .
McCormack and Govier interviewed and met several couples to capture the feelings of loss, pain, and separation from reality that inevitably assaulted them after the trauma of losing a child. The short film was also made in collaboration with the non-governmental organization Everytown for Gun Safety, which is committed to better control of the sale and use of weapons in the country.
Briefly, while the mother does not make reference to a specific shootout, she receives a message in a similar form to what dozens of American parents received on February 14th. What they had in common was that all of their children attended the Marjory Stoneman Dogulas School in Parkland, Florida, which was the site of one of the worst school massacres in the country’s history.
One of the messages Parkland’s parents received
On that day, 17 people died and 17 others were injured. Among the victims were 14 students between the ages of 14 and 18. Since the Columbine massacre, in which 13 people were killed in 1999, only two attacks have been more deadly: Sandy Hook with 26 deaths and Virginia Tech with 32 deaths.
Many of the school’s children and teenagers immediately understood what was happening and barricaded themselves in order to hide from 19-year-old sniper and colleague Nikolas Cruz. While they waited, unsure whether they were lucky or unlucky to be found, they sent goodbye messages to their family members.
“It’s touching and wonderful that the short speaks so beautifully of a subject without the need for dialogue, and therefore reaches so many people,” admitted Laura Dern, the British actress who served as executive producer.
The short is less focused on crime and more concerned with grief, how survivors deal with the tragic memory of the loss of a child – and how this affects the relationships and lives of those trying to overcome the trauma.