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The Captivating True Crime Documentary Currently Crushing It On Netflix

An intense true-crime documentary from 2019 is tearing it up on Netflix, telling the story of how one man came to tear up his town.

Tread, which premiered last year to rave reviews at the South by Southwest film festival, is currently sitting on the streamer's Top Ten list for movies in the U.S. The story Tread tells is so singularly strange that viewers could be forgiven for questioning whether it's even real. However, as anybody from Colorado can attest, it's very real indeed.

Through news footage and interviews, Tread details how Granby, Colorado welder and muffler shop owner Marvin Heemeyer came to exact a jaw-droppingly brash revenge plot on various people whom he felt had wronged him. 

An outsider in town, Heemeyer had purchased a couple of acres of land at a 1992 auction; there, he built his business, which became a popular one in the tiny town of about 2,000 people. Tread posits that Heemeyer's troubles may have begun at that auction, which he won over a local businessman with deep ties to the area. Over the next decade, Heemeyer evidently came to feel persecuted by repeated run-ins with the city council and local authorities. He kept winding up in court over what he perceived to be overly-strict enforcement of local ordinances, always seeming to come out on the losing side. 

When some of Heemeyer's rivals won approval to build a cement plant directly across the street from his shop, it was the last straw. Feeling that he was being effectively run out of town, Heemeyer decided that if he had to go, he'd be taking some of the town with him. Thus, he purchased a Komatsu D55A bulldozer, sequestered it inside his muffler shop, and began diligently working on the project that would transform him from a disgruntled small-town business owner into the dark Colorado legend known as "Captain Killdozer."

Tread details a case that's stranger than fiction

Over a period of roughly 18 months, Heemeyer equipped the Komatsu with a full complement of concrete-reinforced steel armor, external cameras, and automatic weaponry. He detailed his progress — and his belief that he was being actively assisted in his endeavor by God — in a series of disturbing audio tapes of which Tread makes liberal use.

On June 4, 2004, Heemeyer climbed inside the cockpit of his creation and unleashed it on Granby. For over two hours, he tooled around the town at a leisurely pace — straight-up demolishing any and every building associated with his tormentors: Granby's town hall and police station, a bank, the offices of the local newspaper, a hardware store, and more. The police were basically powerless to stop him (you can't really slow down a bulldozer with a handgun), and mostly tried to stay out of his way. 

Heemeyer's rampage only ended when the Komatsu became stuck in the basement of a building Heemeyer had just destroyed. He used a sidearm to end his own life as police closed in; his was the only death to occur that day. In total, Heemeyer had caused upwards of $7 million worth of damage, and inflicted psychological wounds on the town and its residents that linger to this day (via Denver Post).

Heemeyer's story inspired Russian film director Andrey Zvyagintsev to make the 2014 film Leviathan, one of the most acclaimed pictures to come out of that country in the last decade. The real story, though, is more bizarre than anything that any screenwriter could have dreamed up — and Tread lays it all out in fascinating and engaging fashion. The flick is available to stream right now on Netflix.