Pentagram Girl

Pentagram Girl (2024)

Bryan Enk’s short film Pentagram Girl opens with the adult Jenna Bouchard (Lisa Anne Sclar) sitting sadly in her brownstone home at the centre of a funeral reception for her mother Margot (Stephanie Cox-Connolly), who died a year to the day after Jenna’s father Peyton (Linus Gelber). Yet Peyton and Margot are also well-dressed – albeit barefoot – guests at this ceremony, invisible to all except the family’s voyeuristic, coke-snorting butler Bertram (Roger Nasser). It makes a kind of sense that the ghosts of mother and father should still be haunting the building – after all, Peyton was a self-proclaimed ‘necromancer’ and ‘wizard’ who dabbled in ghost hunting and exorcisms, and indeed is said once to have cast a demon out of Jenna herself. 

Exactly one year later, Jenna gives a rare interview about her father’s life and legacy to internet sceptic Jordan Taylor (Arielle Hope) – and then beds her. Later, as Jenna sleeps, Jordan makes her way to the basement to see if the rumours are true about a demonic ‘trophy’ that is being kept hidden away in the dark. There is indeed something trapped down below within a ritual circle – but given that this ‘pentagram girl’ of the title is also played by Lisa Anne Sclar, and also addressed by Bertram as ‘Jenna’, Enk’s screenplay, co-written with David Robson, leaves it an open question whether this is a domestic saga of occult magic or of repressed madness. For the pentagram girl – Jenna’s dark half – seems all at once the supernatural entity that Peyton exorcised from his daughter, and a double of a more psychological variety, a manifestation of Jenna’s own closeted appetites and impulses, which can sometimes prove murderous. Even the word ‘trophy’ evokes the souvenirs kept by serial killers.

Peyton’s absolute belief in the paranormal, Jenna’s agnosticism and Jordan’s debunking doubt – all three of these attitudes offer different interpretative routes through Pentagram Girl. For the viewer can take the film’s narrative entirely literally, or regard it as a more figurative, imaginative expression of Jenna’s split personality, as she comes to grips with who she really is and has been, while we are left less sure what exactly has occurred and what is the precise bodycount. This is shrill and not a little cheesy, but its ambiguities will linger with you – like the ghosts of the dead attending their own funeral.

strap: Bryan Enk’s short film has the bereaved daughter of a necromancer confronting her hidden double in the basement

© Anton Bitel