Last night at Pacific Place, I watched a documentary about nuclear armageddon called Countdown to Zero. The film makes the assertion that we're only one sneeze away from nuclear annihilation at any given moment, and it addresses the many different ways that worldwide destruction could happen.

Speaking as someone whose very first nightmare involved the cast of Family Ties dying in a nuclear explosion, I'd just like to say that this movie terrified the living fuck out of me. First, they explain exactly how terrorists would sneak a nuclear bomb into the country. Then they explain how easy it is to build a nuclear weapon. Then they explain how easy it'd be for the entire world's nuclear arsenal—50,000 missiles!—to be fired by accident. Then they list a few of the countless ways you can die in a nuclear explosion. Then you piss yourself and the movie is over.

Zero thankfully restricts its talking heads to experts in nuclear technology and international diplomacy—there are no idiotic celebrity sermons here, and that was intentional, director Lucy Walker said after the screening last night. The movie zips along cheerfully through its terrifying subject matter, rarely getting bogged down in over-explanation. In fact, a little more explanation would be useful in several cases—at one point, we see a series of dots on a map and the film doesn't bother to explain exactly what we're looking at. The viewer can only assume it's in reference to something apocalyptic.

The solutions presented are vague (send a text message to a number for nuclear disarmament!), but the terror is specific, the information is bracing, and the movie is brisk enough to keep you awake and fearful all the way through. Countdown to Zero screens again tonight at 9:15 at SIFF Cinema, and Walker said it would be opening in general release in Seattle at the end of July, too.