In 2004, a man named Marvin Heemeyer built an armored tank out of a bulldozer and rampaged the small town of Granby, Colorado before taking his own life. Tread is the documentary that explores the circumstances that led to this dramatic event. Director Paul Solet weaves this gripping character study out of Heemeyer’s transformation from friendly, charming small-town every-man to an embittered, fanatically determined domestic terrorist on a mission from God.
The movie operates in these neat little chunks. The first act is the defense of Heemayer - a good ol’ boy done wrong by small-town politics, with supporting testimony from his friends and ex-wife. The second act serves as the cross-examination, with Heemayer painted as needlessly antagonistic and mentally unstable by the townspeople. And then the third act focuses on the subsequent explosive consequences.
We spoke briefly with the director, Paul Solet, after the viewing, who mentioned how he’d initially intended to write a fictional script based on the story, but then decided to approach it as a documentary. Solet also talked about how he an unprecedented bounty of material, as Heemayer himself recorded over 250 hours of himself discussing the events of his life, what he plans to do, and why.
I give the film 5 out of 5 dozers.