On the lookout for a gorge-worthy Netflix true-crime hit that does not require a multi-episode dedication? A documentary that may 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 collection, like Dahmer. Buckle up, as a result of it is a difficult, fascinating story that’ll preserve 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 focus 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 title 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, presumably stoned Kai, a Pauly Shore look-alike, reenacted the hatchet blows whereas hollering, “Smash, smash, suh-MASH!”
After which … effectively, know the web slang time period “milkshake duck“? Invented by Australian cartoonist Ben Ward, who goes by pixelatedboat on Twitter, it describes a standard situation wherein 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 acquired edited and rereleased to tens of millions of views. He appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Dwell, and there was discuss 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, individuals are saying, ‘Boy, we positive are fortunate that homeless hitchhiker was carrying a hatchet.'”
The Netflix present interviews Hollywood producers and journalists who appear fully dazzled by Kai’s story — or the story they need so badly for it to be. They see him as Likelihood, 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 subsequent scorching star. It is unnerving how shortly they rush to mould a hapless hitchhiker with troubling and manifestly apparent psychological well being points into the subsequent huge factor.
However Kai quickly reveals he is not 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 would not actually do a fantastic 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 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 positive. There are claims Kai was abused as a baby, however his mom offers an interview the place she tells a distinct story that is probably not addressed. There are ideas Kai induced the unique assault by giving Jett McBride medication 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 working, it is unimaginable 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 instant and horrific. And at a time when streaming companies appear to be cranking out increasingly multi-episode collection (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’ll be left with some thought-provoking questions on viral fame and its penalties.
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