The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker just hit No. 2 on Netflix — stream it or skip it?

Caleb "Kai" McGillvary in The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker
(Image credit: Netflix)

In a single day, The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker became a household name on Netflix. Or at least that's what Netflix's Top 10 list in the U.S. might have you think.

So fresh on the charts — it debuted yesterday (Jan. 10) — that it hasn't even appeared in FlixPatrol's tracking, The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is a new Netflix documentary film with a title that begs to be watched. And it's got a twist that you may see coming.

While it's unclear if the film is one of the best Netflix movies, it is currently rubbing elbows with big names. Behind it, you have Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery at No. 3 in its third week, and then Netflix's latest big release, the Christian Bale-led mystery The Pale Blue Eye is at No. 1. The fourth-placed Transformers: Dark of the Moon, though, reminds us that the Netflix chart isn't proof of quality.

But none of this answers the biggest question you might have about The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker: should you watch it? Let's find out.

What is Netflix's The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker?

Netflix's The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker is an 85-minute movie that brings a story that many may have missed the first time it got headlines. And its title is so sensational that many will feel a need to watch.

In 2013, Caleb "Kai" McGillvary got headlines for saving the day with his hatchet, in a big moment that turned him into a meme machine. Instantly likable to the public for his goofy manner of speaking, McGillvary had that intangible charisma that draws the public in.

And that's when the film shows us that McGillvary was arrested on murder charges. The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker then re-analyzes the moment that turned McGillvary into a viral sensation as a warning about who he may truly be.

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker reviews: What the critics say

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker doesn't have a Rotten Tomatoes score yet, due to the small number of published reviews for the film. That said, we've found enough to help you decide about it.

In his 3.5 out of 4-star review, Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times declared "The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker is an early-year contender for any list of the most fascinating true-crime films of the year."

The Times of London's James Jackson rated it 4 stars out of 5, and notes "the film seems to be making a valid point about how the reality media is all too vulturine in its race to exploit individuals."

Caleb "Kai" McGillvary in The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker

(Image credit: Netflix)

Marlow Stern at Rolling Stone agrees, writing "It’s far more effective as an indictment against media rapaciousness, as well as their treatment of the homeless and mentally unwell."

Ready Steady Cut's Romey Norton applauds the film for "first-class interviews with reporters" and writes that the film "is jam-packed with craziness and information and really makes you question the media, people and the persona of Kai."

Should you stream or skip Netflix's The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker?

The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker wins points with many, myself included, for its brisk runtime that's less than an hour and a half. Often times, Netflix's limited-run docuseries' stretch out an idea or story far past their point. 

Instead, The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker tells a wild story in a brisk manner, and doesn't seem bothered to slow down. You can rewind, right? More of this, please, Netflix. 

Hitting 'Play' on The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker doesn't seem like a huge risk, as you'll quickly get a sense for if it's for you or not — as if the title didn't sell you on it already.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.