Director: Colette Camden | Time to play: 85 minutes | Year: 2023
When homeless young Kai saves a woman from her attacker in 2013, he becomes world famous overnight. A reporter from a local news station is the only one who manages to interview him, and the video immediately goes viral on YouTube. People all over the world want to know who the boy is and what led him to this heroic act. That he struck a man over the head three times with an ax is accepted simply for convenience.
The new Netflix documentary The Hitchhiker Wielding an Ax It shows well why we shouldn’t make heroes out of people. While Kai is still going viral in February 2013 for preventing a murder, three months later he is wanted by the police. Now he himself is a suspect. The structure of the documentary reflects the public image of Kai. The old footage from the YouTube video is followed by more recent footage of his court testimony and police questioning. In this we see the endearing young man slowly changing to his sinister nickname.
In terms of style, the documentary is a bit fresher than your average crime documentary, but the story is similar. The perpetrator is someone you don’t expect, and the people around them explain why they didn’t expect it either. Then come the people who have already seen the signs. Finally, it becomes clear that the dark side has always been there. All this, of course, accompanied by cozy images of Kai in her own environment.
most of The Hitchhiker Wielding an Ax consists of interviews with people from the media world, who were involved in some way in Kai’s short internet and television career. The California reporter who made him famous, the cameramen who filmed him, and even the TV producers who tried to give him his own reality show. Kai’s friends and family also have a say. Thus, we learn of his supposedly troubled childhood in Canada and that his name is actually Caleb.
If all these people have spoken, we still don’t know for sure who the man in question really is. The stories contradict each other and may even be exaggerated for dramatic effect. It is impossible to find out how and what exactly happened to our court hitchhiker. Kai himself does not participate in the documentary about his turbulent life. Probably a smart choice on the part of the creators, as the boy would have exhibited strange behavior several times during the filming of other projects.
The Hitchhiker Wielding an Ax he also questions the media’s treatment of Kai. A damaged kid who spends his days smoking weed and skateboarding, and relying on the kindness of others for food, transportation, and shelter, appears out of nowhere and pummels a man three times over the head. With an axe, which he had in his possession for reasons unknown. Without looking at the context or Kai’s own contribution to the story, the world proclaims him a hero, who wouldn’t care for him otherwise. Whether this was a good idea isn’t really answered at the end.
The Hitchhiker Wielding an Ax can be seen in Netflix .