Everyone knows Netflix subscribers love a bit of true crime, so it's hardly a surprise that The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, a new addition to the platform, has jumped to the top of its UK streaming chart in just two days.
The film, which premiered on January 10, centers on the rise and fall of nomad Caleb Lawrence "Kai" McGillvary, who became a viral sensation back in February 2013, when he supposedly saved a woman's life after she was grabbed by the man he had been catching a ride with across California. The video, which was released by local Fox affiliate KMPH in Fresno, sees McGillvary reenact how he used a hatchet to "smash, smash, suh-mash" the man, Jeff Simmons McBride, over the head and was subsequently branded a hero by the internet.
On May 16, 2013, McGillvary was arrested and accused of killing 73-year-old lawyer Joseph Galfy in New Jersey the previous night. While McGillvary maintained that he fought off Galfy in self-defense, having allegedly been drugged and sexually assaulted by the victim while staying at his home, he was ultimately found guilty of first-degree murder and is now serving a 57-year prison sentence.
While the movie is proving to be a hit on Netflix, it doesn't seem to be going down well with the majority of viewers. Many who tuned in have taken to Twitter to slam the producers for "villainizing mental illness", and criticize the New Jersey justice system. Others called for the documentary to be longer, so that it could've delved into his "relationship" with Galfy, his difficult childhood, and more.
"The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is a bad documentary. Really, really bad," one social media user claimed (opens in new tab). "It could have been compelling, even meaningful. It was, at best, lazy. Genuinely disgusted by it."
Just watched Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker and now I’m just sad. He was failed by so many, but the exploitation of this young man was egregious. I knew so many people like him in my 20s that were in need of mental health services and now they’re wasting away in prisonJanuary 10, 2023
Watching The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker and all I see is everyone trying to exploit KaiJanuary 10, 2023
Watching #HatchetWieldingHitchhiker on Netflix and I'm only 25 minutes in but think I hate this. Is this whole documentary just interviews with these slimy, insufferable showbiz people? They're all vultures exploiting others for their own 15 minutes of fame.January 11, 2023
actually in awe of how stupid everyone on the Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker documentary is. the guy has obvious serious mental illness and everyone rushed to be the first to exploit himJanuary 10, 2023
The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is streaming now. If true crime is not your thing, check out our list of the best Netflix movies for some viewing inspiration.