MBTI: Hollywood’s Killers
I love October. It starts getting cold, things start dying, and Halloween comes in right at the end to top everything off. It’s also the one time of the year I’m tempted to sit in front of my TV for hours because certain channels show a hundred Horror movies I might otherwise not get the chance to see.
I’ve done the article typing a few of film’s favorite madmen, but how are types specifically represented in Horror? Some usually have a bigger role than others but everybody’s got their place. And everybody dies at some point. In real life of course, but definitely in the movies. And definitely real life too.
Guardians- ESFJ, ISTJ, ESTJ, ISFJ
Guardians play an interesting role in Horror from being the most common type, they play all sorts of roles in the genre; be it main heroine or hero, to the most sadistic killers Horror has created. This is only fitting as in reality, they’ll play the same roles. Everyday working man to- uh-oh!- He’s actually been storing up bodies in his crawlspace for about a decade! Good times.
Often times the leading role, They’ll care about everybody around them which is what makes it so easy for the antagonist to manipulate them into the final climax. Usually a good looking chick with lots of friends as the supporting cast to kill off. This usually channels into the ESFJ personality because in real life, they usually do have lots of friends and with Ti last, figuring out who the killer is won’t be a thought in their head, so much as “OH NO MY FRIENDS ARE ALL DEAD!” is. Understandably.
On the other side of that coin, the ESFJ may play the role of the murderous mother, avenging her son’s death. I usually refer to ESFJs as “Mothers of America” to MBTI newcomers, as it’s just a simple way of saying that your mom or anyone like her is probably ESFJ. And you can bet that if somebody killed you, your mom would grab that kitchen knife she’d cut so many turkeys with and go to town on some irresponsible college kids.
With a few real-life serial killers being typed as Guardians, nobody can dispute the everyday insanity that is the ISTJ. While they’re often relinquished to the role of “Creepy guy that likes main girl,” they’ll usually end up being murdered on the side just so the tension can get built up. You’re meant to think it’s him for a while, but it’s just a red herring so when he dies, you’ll be floored and not know what to think next.
But as an actual killer, they’re the most unstoppable kind. Take Jason for example, who just kills practically indiscriminately and grabs whatever is around to do it. The real terror in their character is that the ISTJ is very much like the iconic built up of the American soldier- unfaltering and unwavering in their resolution. Put that into a fictional serial killer and you’ve got an antagonist that’s going to horrify for decades.
Interesting dual roles, this type plays. Often times, he’s the jock boyfriend that has a black friend and a Letterman jacket. Both are just as important to understanding his character. It shows that he’s popular in every way you need to know about.
He dates the lead, who is a great person, so you understand that he’s sensitive enough to respect her boundaries. He’s got a Letterman jacket to let you know he’s athletic and able to take care of himself as well as being an attention hound. Phrases like “YEAH, BABY! LSD HIGH IS GOING DOWN FRIDAY (Imitates sound of home school’s animal mascot)!” And the ESTJ’s black friend (possibly another ESTJ) lets you know that the ESTJ character is a man of all races. He’s always got a minion on hand and if (excuse me, when) the friend dies, suspicion will be drawn to the boyfriend as a possible killer for additional suspense.
As a killer, they’re rarely present. If they do happen to actually be the killer, it will be done so in the form of a breakdown. They just couldn’t take the pressure of it all anymore, they hated everyone they killed, etc.- things that you either sympathize with or you don’t. There’s no middle ground.
They hardly ever turn out to be the killer as their naturally aggressive nature has you suspecting them in the first place. They’re a football player, it’s obvious they’d be able to overpower the majority of the others, so looking to them first is what you’re supposed to do.
This type seems to be split down the middle when represented in fiction. The ISFJ is the uptight best friend that’s always holding her books up to her chest or maybe is the weird girl in the back of the class that does the same thing. She can be annoying as you’re wanting the plot to move along and she seems to drag it down some, but this type is the very least deserving of the bloody death they’re so prone to. She follows all the “rules” (no drinking, smoking, sex, etc.) yet gets killed anyway.
So it’s only sensible that when they do kill, it’s more out of a sense of revenge than anything else. Similar to the ESTJ, only more understandable. They’ve been bullied, ridiculed, repressed, all of the above. Think Carrie in…Carrie. The bullying she endured ran so deep that she developed telekinetic powers because of it and murdered the school. If only people had been nicer to the ISFJ!
Idealists- ENFJ, INFP, ENFP, INFJ
Usually found in the Supernatural/Thriller/Horror section as opposed to Slasher, this group is a bit less involved in the immediate story and a little more supporting, generally coming in and setting up the third act where it all. goes. DOWN.
ENFJs play a very important role in Horror, good or evil. They’re often playing the preacher on the side of good or evil. The wife who believes her husband is possessed or that her house is haunted will go to the priest at the local church and find out about the history of the evil, either because he knew the family that used to live on that Indian burial ground, or he performed an exorcism on a member, or has possibly heard similar complaints from other people depending on how much the town has affected by it.
Their evil side is the evil mystic or preacher. Drawn to the spiritual, they just can’t help themselves. Possibly making a pact with a demon or going through with some ritual to live forever, they can’t help but bring other people into as well. Reverend Kane is the best example of this, as it wasn’t enough to just die alone but to bring all of his followers in on and steal their souls. Yeesh.
INFPs are suspiciously absent from Horror. Occasionally we’ll see the Goth girl that the lead character goes to for advice on a subject similar to the above-mentioned preacher although a lot less formal and knowledgeable. “Demonology for Dummies,” as it were. She doesn’t play a huge role and she probably won’t even be killed unless she’s upgrades to friend status though the part she plays is important as the main character previously knew nothing about the subject she’d asked about.
Although Nancy in the 2010 remake of Nightmare on Elm Street may have been, she could have just been disturbed by her experiences with a disgusting child molester.
This isn’t to say that INFPs don’t like the genre, just that they’re roles in it are substantially less than other types.
Another role that plays the part of the best friend, this is much like the ESFP but with a little more substance. In a way, she feels another she could have easily been the protagonist but because of her fun-loving nature, doesn’t feel as natural for her to carry the story. Still though, it’s not as easy for the audience to accept their death as they were one of the better looking cast members and it’s sad to see them go in such a terrifying, creative way. Their death lets the audience know that the killer means business and that they’re getting closer to the protagonist.
As the villain, rare though it may be, the ENFP is usually some kind of magical being, be it a toy that’s been brought to life, or a murderer with a child-like quality to their personality. Either way, their methods of killing don’t exclude anyone and will often end up killing someone that is of no consequence to the story, the poor soul just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time (for us, the audience).
Long range, introspective people people, the INFJ’s role has basically always been placed as Exorcist or Psychic of some sort. While the ENFJ preacher or reverend gives great advice or a useful back story, the INFJ is who the main characters go to so they actually get rid of the demons, not just know what they’re up against.
Sometimes an old man, sometimes an old lady, the standout feature…is that they’re old. Why? Old age means wisdom to many, and with this you breathe a sigh of relief when you meet this figure, as it lets us know that something is finally going to be done about the evil that’s been possessing your kid.
Artisan- ISFP, ESTP, ISTP, ESFP
Almost as common as Guardians in the genre, yet much less likely to live due to their willingness to break all the rules and live on the edge. These fools is crazy though for real. They also have a 90% chance of dying in Horror movies due to the fact they’re just as likely to be the villain as they are a victim.
If this is the case, since the movie will need to be resolved at some point (usually around the 110 minute mark) and for a satisfying conclusion, the killer will need to be done away with in a permanent enough way that the at least appear dead.
Much like the ESFJ protagonist but more guarded, the ISFP lead is also much less likely to ever play the role of the killer. Their quiet, peaceful ways normally just make you that much more sympathetic toward the idea that she might be killed.
Her reasons for being a target normally have to do with turning down a violent suitor or being a victim of her own personality in a sense. It wasn’t anything she could help, she just attracted the wrong psycho with no intention of hurting their feelings, but some things are just gonna happen, RIIIIIGHT?
An ISFP villain may include some kind of spirit that will only be satisfied by being reunited with their former lover after death. Maybe at the spot where they died to really get that eerie, complete mood going. On the edge of a cliff perhaps?
These guys are especially villainous, and don’t normally play a good role. Often mistaken for the ESTJ in real life and in fiction, the ESTP killer in real life is represented well by Ted Bundy. Smooth talking with a quick one-liner, aggressive, and to a point, likable.
But we can’t help it, they make things interesting! There’s no real telling what they’re going to do next and whatever it is, it’ll be worth watching. Their drive to achieve what would be impossible for most types keep them an interesting character no matter the genre. The negative side is that there’s no bargaining with them.
Chances are, they’re not going to want to make a deal or their attention won’t be placed on something else, especially if they’re the supernatural kind of enemy. The ESTP drive in a murderous toy or leprechaun keeps kids awake at night well into their adult years.
One of the types that has you sure of their secret agenda, only to be revealed…as the killer. But usually it’s no mystery. They’re more likely to lead an entirely dual life rather than simply keeping it a secret that they’re killing people as of recently. For the ISTP, it’s more along the lines of “Okay, I’ve killed enough people for everybody to get suspicious. Time to go to the next town.” Maybe they’re a vampire. Maybe a werewolf.
Either way, they either can’t die or it’s near impossible but once they’ve sunk their proverbial teeth into their target, they’ll try as hard as they can to literally sink their teeth into them. When the lead characters suspect them of being something a little more sinister, they’re right. But initially, female characters will be turned onto them…only to be the first ones to fall prey.
You know this one. The slutty best friend. She may even be having an affair with the ESFJ’s ESTJ boyfriend. They play a part similar to one they do in real life, although their death in fiction is a bit more satisfying since it may be creative and it’s not real. And sometimes it’s in the middle of having sex!
As in real life, they’re the loosest of everybody they’re hanging out with, always looking for a good time and not really thinking about the consequences. How were they supposed to know there was a guy with mommy issues wielding a chainsaw out in the woods? It was only supposed to be a quickie! …And now it’s a deadie.
Basically everybody in Black Christmas.
Rationals- ENTJ, INTP, ENTP, INTJ
Rationals vary from competent nerd to sadistic demon. In Slasher films, it’s the nerd; in Supernatural, it’s the latter. Something about their roles in real life seem to play into this. If you can run from the killer, they don’t stand much of a chance. But if it’s about finding a true solution to the ancient demon that’s escaped from hell, then the power of the mind prevails.
If there’s any kind of ENTJ character in the story at all, he’s going to be so devastating to the central characters that no one ever feels safe at any point in the movie and they might as well just kill themselves. Even then, they may not able to escape their fate from this seemingly omniscient creature. Maybe assimilation is their goal, maybe it’s the complete destruction of their target. Either way, a lot of people are going to be screwed in the process.
If a problem gets to the point of being a global catastrophe (rare in the case of Horror as the problem usually pertains to a small group), the ENTJ will come in the form of a general or some other military man that has to put a stop to it. Whether or not he’s successful is up to that movie alone since so many end on a note to make you jump, not the story.
This type takes the form of the nerd that gets rejected by the main girl and bullied by the ESTJ boyfriend. In some cases, he may turn into the hero, in some he dies just as quickly. But in many cases, he lasts just long enough to prove himself a man. Not by having sex or doing something “cool” but perhaps by sacrificing himself just long enough for the others to get away. Either way, much like the ISFJ bookworm, we don’t want him to die, but you can’t stop fate. Or change the writer’s mind after the movie’s already been made.
On the other hand, the INTP plays the role of mad scientist that doesn’t know when to stop. His experiments have taken crudeness and insanity to new depths and new heights simultaneously. Everything is in the name of science and he’s not going to stop until he perfects his new creation; which he never will because it’s something ludicrous and impossible: reanimating corpses, namely.
As a friend, the ENTP is the comedic relief and is a know-it-all on whatever subject is necessary at the time. Not as knowledgeable as the Idealist mystics in Supernatural films, mind you, but he’s better than nothing at the moment and is able to get enough jokes in to let you know that this is the real world where not everything is taken so seriously…immediately, anyway. May die halfway through the movie or toward the end, because now that the jester is gone, all the jokes have been told and things are getting serious.
As a villain, the ENTP in Horror is impish and laughing all the way as the supporting are being cut in two, having their head explode, or being buried alive. Whatever it is, it’s going to be gross. Think Freddy Krueger or the gremlins, where very bad things happening to you is simply a joke to them. You final moments are nothing more than momentary entertainment and that’s what makes the ENTP villain so frightening.
The INTJ is never a friend. They’ll pretend to be one though, as all the friends are helplessly slaughtered throughout the movie, until the final reveal. True Horror fans will see it coming a mile away, but passerbys will jump at the reveal that (GASP!) It was the twin brother from her youth! Or something of the like. Though it is possible for the INTJ to play the role of detective trying to find a killer, though they’re unlikely to play the role.
The darker side of Horror is where INTJs find their strength. As a master planner from beginning to end, the INTJ works on both sides of the fence to make sure nobody really knows anything about them unless they go to great lengths to get some bit of information and by the time they do that, the INTJ has been able to make their moves like getting their opponent in check. In supernatural thrillers, the INTJ villain can’t die, while in Slashers and Mysteries, he will die but only after much irreparable damage has been done to everyone.