2020, NR, 89 min. Directed by Paul Solet.
REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., Feb. 28, 2020
The city of Granby, Colo., decided to destroy Marvin Heemeyer’s home. So Marv decided to destroy the city of Granby. Or at least, that’s what Marv believed had happened when he ran a bulldozer through the homes and businesses of his neighbors.
On June 4, 2004, Heemeyer – a local mechanic and all-round popular guy – went on an insane spree of destruction that no one saw coming, and which he saw as his revenge upon a broken world and a “good old boy” network that had destroyed his life. In Paul Solet’s doom-laden documentary about the toxic isolation that can infect the heart of small-town America, the director pulls at the threads of Heemeyer’s self-justifying narrative and finds a dark figure hiding underneath.
Best known as a horror director (Grace, Tales of Halloween), Solet uses re-creations, contemporary interviews, and archive footage to set the groundwork for how this good old boy did something so incredibly monstrous. Instead of heading straight into the crime, he builds the drama brick by brick, avoiding any sense that this is a quirky tale of rural antics. It’s the ultimate portrait of how a seemingly quiet neighbor can make such insane plans and no one be any the wiser. (As Tom Waits so astutely asked, “What’s he building in there?”) It’s the birth of a messianic, evangelical, domestic terrorist without ever explicitly saying those words. Heemeyer even has a fully fledged Unabomber-style manifesto. Solet may not have explicitly made a horror movie, but it’s truly terrifying nonetheless because it stares point-blank at the lunacy that allows a seemingly normal farmer to blame every outsider for his ills. If you've ever wondered where a Cliven Bundy comes from, or an Andrew Joseph Stack III (the maniac that flew his plane into an Austin office building in 2010 because he was mad about his tax bill), this is a trip down every twisted nerve and malevolent neuron.
Ultimately, Marv’s intention was to rip the town apart. With a mournful compassion for everyone concerned, Solet delicately probes the fault lines ripped wide open that day by Marv and his bulldozer – whether those faults were there before, or his actions dug them.