Extra Individuals Ought to Watch This Stunning Crime Documentary on Netflix

In search of a Netflix true-crime hit that does not require a multi-episode dedication however will go away you pondering for days? Watch The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker, Netflix’s unofficial nominee for “Present Whose Title Sounds Most Like a Weekly World Information Headline.” It is not a type of multiple-episode sequence, like Dahmer — as an alternative, this documentary unrolls in lower than an hour and a half.

Buckle up, as a result of it will get difficult. Again in 2013, a man named Jett McBride deliberately ran his automotive right into a California utility employee, then bought out of his automotive and attacked each the injured man and bystanders who tried to assist. However that crime is not the main focus of this story. As issues bought loopy, a hitchhiker in McBride’s automotive jumped out and raced to the rescue, defending the others by attacking McBride with a hatchet.

The hitchhiker, a Canadian whose title is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary however glided by Kai, gave a TV interview to reporter Jessob Reisbeck. The interview went viral, partly as a result of the wide-eyed, chatty, probably stoned Kai, a Pauly Shore look-alike, reenacted the hatchet blows whereas hollering, “Smash, smash, suh-MASH!”

After which … properly, know the web slang time period “milkshake duck“? Invented by Australian cartoonist Ben Ward, who goes by pixelatedboat on Twitter, it describes a standard state of affairs by which the web falls in love with somebody who appears completely charming, on this case, a duck who drinks milkshakes. However simply 5 seconds later, the duck is found to be racist, and it falls from grace. (Keep in mind Ken Bone, made well-known after asking a query throughout a 2016 town-hall-style presidential debate? He was an early instance.)

Kai basked in web fame for a bit longer than 5 seconds. His interview bought edited and rereleased to tens of millions of views. He appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Reside, and there was speak of giving him his personal actuality present, a la the Kardashians. Stephen Colbert joked on his present, “For the primary time in human historical past, persons are saying, ‘Boy, we certain are fortunate that homeless hitchhiker was carrying a hatchet.'”


Kai displayed his musical abilities by grabbing a guitar from a music retailer and singing for his new associates.


The Netflix present interviews Hollywood producers and journalists who appear utterly dazzled by Kai’s story — or the story they need so badly for it to be. They see him as Probability, the naive gardener from the film and novel Being There, whose very simplicity convinces individuals his nonetheless waters run deep.  They actually know nothing about Kai — the place he got here from, how he’ll react to something — however they’re able to crown him the subsequent scorching star. It is unnerving how rapidly they rush to mould a hapless hitchhiker with troubling and obviously apparent psychological well being points into the subsequent large factor.

However Kai quickly reveals he isn’t precisely what Hollywood anticipated. You marvel why these big-salaried talent-spotters ever thought an unhoused man who carried a hatchet was going to have the ability to easily flip into Brad Pitt. They can not seem to stroll Kai right into a lodge foyer with out him peeing on a desk. 

Then, simply months after the preliminary incident that made him well-known, Kai is arrested — for homicide. The Netflix documentary does not actually do an important job of explaining the crime, all however glossing over the poor sufferer. It is obvious this can be a milkshake duck story, not a walk-you-through-the-courtroom-details true-crime story. We’re not right here to get trial transcripts, however to study how rapidly a viral video can convey a stranger fame and every kind of financial alternatives, after which actuality can convey them right down to earth with one big suh-MASH. 

The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker has its flaws, for certain. There are claims Kai was abused as a baby, however his mom provides an interview the place she tells a unique story that is probably not addressed. There are ideas Kai precipitated the unique assault by giving Jett McBride medication earlier than the intentional automotive crash. Most of all, the homicide Kai commits is so sketchily defined I am nonetheless considerably confused about it, and needed to flip to different on-line information sources for particulars. 

However as soon as the present begins operating, it is not possible to show it off. It is fascinating to look at individuals confess they fell for a viral video star who grew to become well-known purely by likelihood, and whose fall from grace was rapid and horrific. And at a time when streaming providers appear to be cranking out an increasing number of multi-episode sequence (see Netflix’s Dahmer), this fast-paced present is simply an hour and 25 minutes lengthy. When it is over, you will not know the minute particulars of Kai’s life and crime, however you can be left with some thought-provoking questions on viral fame and its penalties.

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