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Review: Added flourishes detract from ‘Tread,’ the true story of a 2004 bulldozer rampage

The outskirts of Granby, Colo. in the documentary ‘Tread’
The outskirts of Granby, Colo. in the documentary “Tread.”
(Gravitas Ventures)

Less would have been considerably more in the case of “Tread,” a needlessly overstuffed documentary chronicling the path that led to a disgruntled muffler repair shop owner going on a remarkable 2004 rampage in a heavily armored bulldozer through the streets of Granby, Colo.

Prior to that tragic escalation of events, Marvin Heemeyer, who lived alone in the sleepy Grand County town, had been regarded as a generally likable neighbor and successful businessman with a talent for welding.

But the unfavorable outcome of a 2001 zoning dispute with city officials would continue to fester, propelling him to hole up in an industrial shed where he’d clandestinely modify the Komatsu excavator he bought at auction, converting it into an impenetrable, veritable killdozer.

Miraculously no one other than Heemeyer, who succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot, was injured during the onslaught.

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Building his film (it premiered at last year’s SXSW festival) around a manifesto Heemeyer had recorded on audiocassette, director Paul Solet felt the need to blanket the standard interview-and-archival footage format with dramatic reenactments, heavy orchestral cues and repetitive slow motion that end up detracting from a story that was plenty sensational in its own right.

The actual news footage of the vehicle plowing through buildings connected with those he felt wronged by more than suffices, with that monstrous, tank-like mutation serving as a frightening if fitting manifestation of Heemeyer’s mounting resentment and isolation.

‘Tread’
Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Playing: Feb. 24-25, Studio Movie Grill, Glendale, Downey, Monrovia and Simi Valley; starts Feb. 28,
Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood


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