My Take: Deathtrap is the Perfect Movie for an ISTJ

February 14, 2024 by Sandy Lerebours

Deathtrap” plays at the Carolina Theatre on February 15, as part of a double feature with “Clue: The Movie” in our Retro Film Series. Our Senior Director of Film, Jim Carl, explains why this is the perfect movie for an ISTJ, like himself. 

Recently, I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. I am an ISTJ. And not in a softcore kind of way, but the type that can get arrested for simply appearing in public in Peoria. What I’m trying to say, I suppose, is that this news is no great shocker. It makes sense. I’ve always known I was much better as a producer than as an actor. I’m even better at being a cold-hearted chunk of granite, just ask my editor. Best of all, I do not shy away from telling a Big Fat Lie when a Big Fat Lie is what’s called for. 

I’ve always hated movies with ambiguous endings. I prefer Agatha Christie-style plots where everyone is gathered into a room at the end, and an inspector carefully explains how everyone involved had a motive to commit the murder, but only one had the audacity to do it. Hopefully, there are flashbacks that recreate the night of the crime so we can clearly see all the clues that were in place but were too distracted to notice them. I prefer movies that dispense justice rather than stick around to argue with the other side. 

This is why I love whodunnits. You can’t have a whodunnit without actually explaining who done it. There is a name for whodunnits that do not explain everything. They’re called fantasies, and as an ISTJ, fantasy is something I can do without.  I prefer cold, hard facts that can be scrutinized. This handily explains why I love pictures like “Deathtrap,” “Evil Under the Sun,” and “Masquerade.“ And why I am so looking forward to never again watching “Mulholland Drive” during my lifetime. 

Truth is, I enjoy being an ISTJ. In case you’re wondering, that stands for Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. I rely on facts more than feelings. I prefer tradition over innovation. Past experiences inform almost all of my current decisions, and I’m absolutely the last person you’ll find crying at a funeral. Having to work in a group setting is anathema to an ISTJ. Dying alone is not such a bad thing.   

All of which is a very long-winded way of saying: Come see “Deathtrap.”  It’s about as tightly constructed as a thriller can be without strangling itself with overambition and explains itself in terms you can actually understand, unlike some movies whose plots skid 40,000 feet above your head.  Imagine if they remade “Deathtrap” today but without that film’s wit, nuance, character, or structure, and you’d have “Knives Out.” Let me put it another way: If you thought “Knives Out” was a clever movie, then you owe it to yourself to see “Deathtrap,” if only so you can see how it’s really done. It’s the perfect movie for an ISTJ. 


JIM CARL is Senior Director of Film at the Carolina Theatre.  He has been in charge of its film program since 1995.  He was supposed to write a blog about Nevermore but he’s still not feeling it.