On September 2, HBO Max released one of the most dizzying docuseries in its catalog – House of Hammer. Ever since it was announced by the streaming service, the mini-series has been generating buzz because it recounts disturbing accusations of rape and harassment that surfaced last year against famous actor Armie Hammer.

According to the docuseries, those allegations appear just the tip of the iceberg, however, when it comes to the Hammer family. It seems that for generation after generation, its men have reportedly been embroiled in scandals involving sexual perversion, drugs and corruption that were covered up thanks to their wealth and inordinate power in the USA.

That is until the arrival of one of them in Hollywood caused the misconduct that had allegedly gone on for years to come to light, triggering a public scandal no one could keep the lid on.

Accusations relating to rape, cannibalistic fantasies, drugs, abuse, harassment, corruption of a political nature and of other kinds… It’s as if this mini-series is the product of a twisted mind but the fact is no fiction writer would dare to combine all those ingredients at once. Reality, however, always trumps fiction.

Armie Hammer and the tip of the iceberg

Although the Armie Hammer case made news around the world, some viewers would still be in the dark, what with so many accused of harassment in the “wonderful” world of Hollywood. So this three-part docuseries deftly situates them in front of what started out as one more controversy but ended up both dominating the news and bringing the future heir to ruin.

When David Fincher chose Hammer to play the twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss in his acclaimed The Social Network, the actor was seen as one of the most promising of his generation. His later role in Call Me by Your Name only came as confirmation that a new idol was in the making.

On reaching the pinnacle of his career, this new golden boy separated from the woman who had until then been by his side and began flirting with other young women who found his charms irresistible. He began messaging them on Instagram, progressing from flattery to strange requests that allegedly ended up turning into insistence on behavior of a sadistic nature.

‘House of Hammer’. HBO Max.

This is what has been attested to by various women, who faced the cameras of the docuseries in order to say how terrified they were, the trauma they experienced and its ongoing impact on their lives.

A dynasty that shone on the outside but was rotten on the inside

Armie Hammer’s meteoric climb to fame collapsed like a house of cards as alleged victims told disturbing stories of bondage, cannibalistic fantasies, bruises and branding… And he wasn’t alone in his fall from grace, tumbling with him was the disturbing dynasty he hails from.

The ace up the sleeve of this documentary is the participation of Armie’s aunt, Casey Hammer, who shares her side of the story about what she experienced at the hands of her grandfather, father, her brother and even her nephew, the actor. Thus it is no longer just a case of hearing from (more or less) anonymous women who had spent time with him, but of a member of his own family dropping the bombshells.

Casey Hammer. ‘House of Hammer’. HBO Max.

If you were to dig a little deeper, you could probably go back even further, but from Armie’s great-grandfather Armand Hammer, who controlled a major oil company, to his grandfather Julian, his father Michael, and to Armie himself, there have allegedly been cases of extreme abuse towards women, political manipulation and various financial frauds.

In the docuseries, a former co-worker likens the story to Dante’s Inferno, saying the more it’s delved into, the more that will be dredged up, and claiming that at the bottom of it all is Armie.

Transgenerational trauma, #MeToo, and what can be learned

Without a doubt, a lot of lessons have been learned from the #MeToo movement, and its impact is still being seen, such as female victims of men speaking out for the first time without fear (or at least with less fear) of the consequences, which beforehand would have been non-existent.

But this story also shows something else to viewers who, unable to take their eyes off the screen, see how minute by minute one disturbing tale is surpassed by the next. What is unrelentingly revealed is transgenerational trauma.

‘House of Hammer’. HBO Max.

This is what psychology defines as the transference of emotional, physical or social pain suffered by someone to their descendants, and in ways that go much deeper than just learned behavior.

Thus it is that both the pain and the way in which suffering is viewed and endured, is also learned. And it’s terrifying how the Hammers have been enduring it and apparently making others do so, too.

Paula Hergar
Paula Hergar is a 360 journalist as Paquita Salas would say, writes about TV in Vertele and presents, writes, and directs Zapping on LOS40. In addition to collaborating in cultural programs in La 2 and being the author of the book ‘Around the world in 80 series’.