Panic in Year Zero is a little strange and "off" at times. The musical score by Les Baxter is jazzy and upbeat when it should be disturbing or portentous. The weird, multiitudinous shots of cars speeding down the road are jarring, and take one out right of the Baldwin's existentialist dilemma. But outside these weird flourishes, the film remains, indeed an expressive and intimate tale about what it means to truly be civilized.
Civilization, it turns out, is even more necessary when the world has gone to Hell. If man loses civilization, he'll be back to scrawling pictures on cave walls, huddling forever in darkness and fear.
The Baldwins escape that fate in Panic in Year Zero!...but just barely.