The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker

I love a good documentary and Netflix tossed a good out recently. Good documentaries tell amazing stories with twists and turns and this story has all of the above.

Proclaimed a hero on the internet and in the media, the man who would become known as Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker parlayed his moment of fame and heroism into an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in 2013. Three months later, the viral sensation was wanted for murder.

The film begin by documenting an incident by a driver who picked Kai up, Jett Simmons McBride, McBride drove his car into another vehicle, spurred on with a racial hatred. He also attacked a woman who had come to try and aid the man pinned in the accident. McBride placed the woman in a bear hug. Kai saw this and removed a hatchet he had in his backpack and attacked McBride in order to help the woman.

Journalist Jessob Reisbeck was able to get an interview with Kai, thinking he was a witness. Kai then told him about the incident and how he hit McBride three times, using the term “Smash” while acting out the attack. The video went viral and began a media firestorm with everyone wanting to get the interview for this supposed hero.

As they were working toward getting Kai on Kimmel, some of the eccentricities of Kai started to come through. Things escalates until he winds up murdering an older lawyer.

This story was remarkably compelling and watching how the world built this guy up, who was a nomad, someone who was a free spirit and living off the land and the kindness of people, to a point where he is now in prison for murder.

Kai, whose real name was Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, appeared in several videos through the doc. We also heard from family members, people from the Jimmy Kimmel show, Reisbeck and police involved in the case.

I was fascinated with the documentary. It showed how celebrity could be highlighted by the media and the public and how it can make things much worse. It is an entertaining doc.

3.9 stars

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