TREAD film reviews come in positive at SXSW
The visual with this posting is one of the reviews of the documentary film TREAD, which is based in part on my book “KILLDOZER: The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage.” The film had its world premiere at the South by South West (SXSW) film festival March 8. I attended the premiere.
I am also going to publish with this article another review of the film that appeared in FlashFilm (/Film), a blog on the film industry that’s used a lot by insiders in Hollywood and Manhattan.
Basically, the film has gotten good reviews.
I sat through two showings at the world premiere of the film at the South by South West Film Festival and I think it deserves the good reviews. The film is well done.
The production values are just impeccable. The editing and directing are both professional. Great filming. High quality recreations. It’s clear that the director and production team knew what they were doing.
I will be commenting here on my blog about the film in other postings. But for this I am going to post the other review that was on SlashFilm (/Film), that film blog I mentioned above. The reviewer gave the film an 8.5 out of 10, which was one of the highest review ratings on the site relating to the South by South West (SXSW).
In June of 2004, Marvin Heemeyer emerged from the warehouse where he had spent the past months transforming a bulldozer into an unstoppable, bullet-proof tank and rampaged through his small Colorado town. No one was killed, but large swaths of the city were destroyed as the police helplessly followed, unable to do anything to stop the destruction. If you don’t remember this, you’re not alone – Tread ultimately explains why this bizarre story has been largely forgotten, but only after exploring, in fascinating detail, how it all came to happen in the first place.
Director Paul Solet (who first came to SXSW with his creepy 2009 horror film Grace) brings a polished cinematic edge to this documentary, which makes use of the typical talking heads as well as cinematic re-enactments that recreate key moments from throughout Heemeyer’s story. At times, Tread plays like an audition for a Hollywood adaptation, with the undeniably well-made recreations suggesting that Solet could do the job as well as anyone. And yet, Tread feels like it must be a documentary – if this was a regular feature film, no one would believe it actually happened this way. It’s too weird, too wild, and too strange.
Perhaps the most troubling (and honestly, thrilling) aspect of Tread is that Solet is juggling subjects whose perspectives clash. Heemeyer makes his case for his rampage in a series of audio recordings that go into extreme detail about what drove him to go down this path and for a little while, he can’t help but sound convincing, or at least sympathetic. But when Solet turns his camera on the other citizens of the town, a completely different narrative emerges, one in which Heemeyer’s every motivation is untrue. Someone is mistaken. Or someone is lying. Or someone’s memory has failed them. Tread isn’t sure what is truth and what is obfuscation and that’s the point. Memory and perspective are clay – they mold easily, especially when warmed by rage.
Tread’s fascinating and frustrating narrative of small town politics ultimately leads to that final rampage, where Heemeyer’s Frankenstein of a vehicle begins its terrifying journey. And while that destination may be the key selling point, its lead-up proves equally powerful and and relevant. This is a classic “one man pushed too far narrative” while acting as a rejection of that very concept. One key scene suggests that Heemeyer was inspired by Hollywood revenge movies to enact his plan, but Tread, tragic and strange and human in ways that action movies rarely are, refuses to paint in black and white. It lives in a world of murky grey, a frustrating landscape of half-remembered truths. The unanswered questions, the ones that are lost to time, prove as compelling as the facts.
/Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10