Extra Individuals Must Watch This Unnerving Netflix True Crime Documentary

Searching for a gorge-worthy Netflix true-crime hit that does not require a multi-episode dedication? A documentary that can go away you pondering for days?

The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker, Netflix’s unofficial nominee for “Present Whose Title Sounds Most Like a Weekly World Information Headline,” is a 90-minute documentary movie. It isn’t a type of lengthy, multiple-episode sequence, like Dahmer. Buckle up, as a result of it is a difficult, fascinating story that’ll maintain you riveted for its cheap runtime.

Again in 2013, a man named Jett McBride deliberately ran his automobile right into a California utility employee, then acquired out of his automobile and attacked each the injured man and bystanders who tried to assist. However that crime is not the main target of this story. As issues acquired loopy, a hitchhiker in McBride’s automobile jumped out and raced to the rescue, defending the others by attacking McBride with a hatchet.

The hitchhiker, a Canadian whose identify is Caleb Lawrence McGillvary however glided by Kai, gave a TV interview to reporter Jessob Reisbeck. The interview went viral, partially 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 typical state of affairs through 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. (Bear 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 acquired edited and rereleased to thousands and thousands of views. He appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Dwell, 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 positive are fortunate that homeless hitchhiker was carrying a hatchet.'”


Kai displayed his musical skills 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 folks 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 following sizzling star. It is unnerving how shortly they rush to mildew a hapless hitchhiker with troubling and manifestly apparent psychological well being points into the following massive 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 resort 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 it is 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 find out about how shortly a viral video can convey a stranger fame and all types of financial alternatives, after which actuality can convey them all the way down to earth with one large suh-MASH. 

The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker has its flaws, for positive. There are claims Kai was abused as a baby, however his mom offers an interview the place she tells a special story that is probably not addressed. There are options Kai precipitated the unique assault by giving Jett McBride medicine earlier than the intentional automobile 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 unattainable to show it off. It is fascinating to look at folks confess they fell for a viral video star who turned well-known purely by probability, and whose fall from grace was rapid and horrific. And at a time when streaming companies appear to be cranking out increasingly 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 may be left with some thought-provoking questions on viral fame and its penalties.

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