THE HATCHET WIELDING HITCHHIKER on Netflix is a documentary about Kai, who became an overnight celebrity in 2013. By the end of the year, he was arrested for murder. Read our The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker documentary review here!

THE HATCHET WIELDING HITCHHIKER is a new Netflix documentary about the homeless man, Kai, who became an overnight internet sensation in 2013. He was an unlikely hero, to say the least, and was applauded for actions that seemed rather grotesque. Or, at the very least, the way he describe the events was over the top.

The young man had a temper, for sure, but he also gave away anything he had to those who had less. He was all about justice and – it would turn out – dreamt of becoming a vigilante. The latter landed him in jail before the end of that very same year.

Continue reading our The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker review below. Find it on Netflix from January 10, 2023.

From happy-go-lucky nomad to viral stardom

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is the true story of Caleb “Kai” McGillvary. He was a young homeless nomad (or “home-free” as he called it), who became an overnight internet sensation in 2023. This happened when he saved a woman from a violent attack. The attacker was the very same man he had just hitchhiked a ride from.

Kai, as he presented himself in an interview right after the events unfolded. He only gave that one interview and the reporter – who usually covered sports – became the only one who could get in touch with the nomad.

When the interview was uploaded to YouTube that night, the reporter woke up to over half a million views. And what’s more, people were sharing the video across social media. Kai was a hero, who had stepped up when someone was in need.

People related to him, applauded him, and aspired to be him. There were even plans to give him his own reality show!

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker – Review | Netflix Documentary

A reality show about homeless people

When Caleb “Kai” McGillivary became this very unlikely hero and subsequently an internet sensation, he was on the fast track to becoming an even unlikelier star. This resulted in Kai being offered a reality TV show by some of the people who had worked on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

They dreamed of creating a reality show that would – and this is a direct quote – show “Homeless people living happily on the streets”. You cannot make this sh*t up! Talk about being gullible and completely out of touch with anything kind of real world. But hey, that’s “reality” television for you.

In order to further build his “brand”, there were TV appearances (Jimmy Kimmel) and concerts. However, everywhere Kai went, problems erupted. He was always nice to the little people though. If someone handed him money or any kind of product, he might very well turn around and give it to someone he deemed more worthy.

Money meant nothing to Kai, which meant they could not control him. The reality show never came to be. Nor did Kai really want it to ever happen. He wanted to be free and keep living his nomad life.

Instead, three months later, the rollercoaster ride of being a viral hit, ended with Kai facing life in prison for a murder he says was self-defense.

Watch The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker on Netflix!

Colette Camden is the director of this Netflix documentary and I appreciated the “fly on the wall” approach of showing us the facts and including interviews with relevant people. I would have preferred some tough questions be asked of especially the title person’s family, but maybe that’s just me.

Having watched The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, I still can’t say if Caleb “Kai” McGillvary belongs in prison. It could have been self-defense (though the facts are iffy at best). In any case, he needs help in ways I doubt prison can provide. Making sure he gets psychiatric care is surely a better option.

Also, we should all learn not to applaud people if we’re not ready to see all of them. I don’t recall 2013 when Kai was the big viral hit, so this is my first encounter with him. As far as I can tell, the home-free nomad was 100% showing everyone who he was constantly. People just didn’t want to see this, and then they held it against him later.

The people arresting him for murder even referred to his heroic moment as him “assaulting a man”. Well, that man was on trial with Kai as the key witness, so that is definitely ignoring facts. He did help save people from a madman.

It just turned out (as anyone with an open mind – or experience with addicts or the mentally ill – should have seen at first sight) that Kai himself was somewhat of a madman in his own right. He just had a more loving a positive outlook on the free life and people in general. Well, except for “rich, white, fat people”, as he states multiple times!

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is out on Netflix globally from January 10, 2023.


The true story of Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, an unhoused nomad who, after saving a woman from a violent attack, became an overnight celebrity sought after by reality TV producers and adoring fans alike — until murder turned his fame into notoriety.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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