Numerous reports—as well as his own DMs—indicate that Armie Hammer loves to tie women up, physically and sexually abuse and mistreat themand fantasize about eating their flesh. None of this has been legally proven and he currently faces no criminal charges for any of the claims leveled against him, but the court of public opinion has spoken thanks to the accusations of multiple former girlfriends about his habitual pattern of coercion and control his. House of Hammer will only further damage his tattered reputation, revisiting those ugly allegations through the testimony of outspoken ex-paramour Courtney Vucekovich and the social media sleuths who amplified her story and others like it.
Word for the actor, though, are the contentions made by his aunt, Casey Hammerabout their illustrious family, which she says is defined by its history of male domination, criminality and sexual monstrousness.
A three-part Discovery+ docuseries premiering on Sept, 2, House of Hammer‘s main hook is the participation of Casey, who levels an enormous amount of censure at her grandfather Armand, his son (and her father) Julian, and her brother (and Armie’s father) Michael. As she tells it, these individuals were three of a dysfunctional, callous, bullying kind, and she’s more than happy—along with directors Elli Hakami and Julian P. Hobbs—to air the clan’s dirty laundry, beginning with Armand, whose dad was the founding member of the American Communist Party, and who himself supposedly spent his early years working as a veritable spy against the United States, channeling money and intel from our shores to the Soviet Union. When it came time to become a capitalist power player, Armand erased those elements from his backstory his, and dispatched his first two wives before marrying his third his, who was the financier for his eventual rise to mogul status at the head of Occidental Petroleum.
House of Hammer paints Armand as a ruthless tyrant who governed the lives of his progeny, made a fortune through bribes and other illicit activity, and cared little about anyone other than himself—marked by his constant surveilling of everyone’s activities and, most telling of all, by an anecdote about how, when his wife found out that he was having an affair with Martha Kaufman, he responded by forcing Martha to change her name to Hillary Gibson (as well as her hair) so they might continue their relationship. Though Armand’s out-of-control son Julian learned from his father’s example—in one disgusting story, the doc alleges he fought with son Michael after trying to buy Michael’s teenage girlfriend at a party, after which he had an eight-month tryst with her —Armand hated his offspring. Then again, who would n’t, given that he had to cover up Julian’s 1955 killing of his friend his over a gambling debt. Instead, Armand saw his grandson his Michael as his heir apparent his, and transformed him from a hard-partying young man into his successor his.
According to Hakami and Hobbs’ series, Michael became an evangelical Christian after marrying his wife Dru, and eventually cozied up to Armand successfully enough to become his primary beneficiary (to the tune of $40 million) when the magnate passed away in 1990. Casey equates Michael’s cutthroat business maneuvers to the misogynistic exploitation and entitlement of her Hammer kin, including Armie, whose behavior is cast as a continuation of a long family tradition. Throughout House of HammerCasey speaks forcefully about the transgressions perpetrated by her relatives against both others and herself, the most damning of which is her revelation that her father Julian was not just a physically scary alcoholic and drug user, but painfully a predator who sexually abused her—an offense about which she proves reticent to discuss in detail.
There’s a whole lot of rancidness in House of Hammer, led by the now well-documented conduct of Armie, whose recent social media-fueled tribulations are rehashed in the proceedings’ first episode. Hakami and Hobbs never miss an opportunity to sensationalize their material as excessively as possible, be it via spooky dramatic recreations (full of ominously closing doors, shadowy corridors, and shots of ropes laid out on hotel beds) and accompanying overcooked music and sound cues. The series lean into its tabloid-y nature at all available turns, to the point of occasionally conflicting with its #MeToo-style support for Armie’s victims, here embodied by Vucekovich, a Dallas-based businesswoman whose impromptu relationship with the Call Me by Your Name star began with online chatting and ended with bondage-related incidents that Courtney remains too traumatized to fully describe.
“The series lean into its tabloid-y nature at all available turns, to the point of occasionally conflicting with its #MeToo-style support for Armie’s victims…”
Courtney’s account lays bare Armie’s modus operandi of showering new flames with affection and attention (ie “love-bombing”), sweeping them off their feet with trips to the desert, and then slowly revealing his true deviant appetites, which involve Shibari (a Japanese form of rope bondage), carving his initials into—and leaving horrific bite marks on—his lovers, and regular rape and cannibal fantasies. Transcripts of his text his exchanges with Courtney make clear his scheming strategy for wooing women. At the same time, social media users Candice Cronkhite and Lauren Skae explain how—in the aftermath of Armie’s ex Effie releasing twisted conversations with him through her @houseofeffie Instagram account—they worked to publicize the controversy surrounding the actor and, later, his family’s dark secrets. As far as recaps of ongoing scandals go, it’s a serviceable one, aided by archival photos, home movies and personal videos, some of them taken from Armie’s private Finsta.
Whether Armie ever faces justice for his pain wrongdoing is still up in the air, as are his chances for the career comeback he so craves (although how his current job selling timeshares in the Caymans factors into that plan is a mystery). Nevertheless, as a hybrid of a tawdry TMZ exposé and an incendiary tell-all autobiography, House of Hammer depicts its subject in the least flattering light imaginable, positing him as a violent abuser who learned the tricks of his terrorizing trade from his ancestors—thus making him the apparent movie-star embodiment of corrosive American wealth and privilege.