In the past few months, I have been studying Myers Briggs Personality Types as a means of developing and understanding fictional characters. Though the system is imperfect, the personality types can be really helpful to use as a basic foundation for creating a character. A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I outline my characters which includes using MBTI for each of my characters. Many other authors also find that the Myers Briggs Personality types are a great foundation for build characters, and many readers enjoy typing characters as a means of understanding them.
However, as I have been typing and looking up the personality types of different fictional characters, I found that one specific type was generally missing. The female INTJ is almost nonexistent in fiction. (No, Katniss from The Hunger Games series is not an INTJ; she is an ISTJ and clearly does not use introverted intuition as her dominant function.) However, it would be wrong of me to claim that female INTJs do not exist in fiction; there are a few out there. For instance, Moraine from The Wheel of Time series is an INTJ, but in general, finding a female INTJ in fiction is so (comparatively) rare that most people will not read or see a fictional female INTJ.
Though female INTJs are the rarest female type in real life (estimated to be less than 1% of the female population), I was disappointed that they do not have a better representation in fiction– especially when male INTJs, who are almost as rare (3%ish), are so popular (such as Mr. Darcy, Atticus Finch, Ender Wiggin, and Sherlock Holmes). Frankly, I think fiction is missing out on some interesting characters by ignoring the opportunity that female INTJs present.
But I am not surprised. As a female INTJ, I understand why it is so intimidating for authors to write a well-rounded female character with this personality type. The main issue authors face is confusion about what a female INTJ actually looks like. Since we are so rare in the real world and the INTJ personality type seems to contradict the average woman’s personality, most writers struggle to understand female INTJs well enough to write one. Hopefully, I can clear some of this confusion up with this post.
If you are not familiar with the INTJ type, please check out my post on INTJ characters in general. Also I would highly suggest reading Mandy Wallace’s amazing post about INTJ characters in general: The Character most Writers get Wrong and How to Fix It. If you don’t have the time to read another post or two, do not worry; I am explaining the basics below, but Mandy Wallace’s post has some great insite on INTJ as fictional characters if you have the time to read it.
As for specifically female INTJs, most people understand them even less. For instance, there are memes like this (as found on Pinterest):”INTJ Female: it’s like finding a unicorn– an EVIL unicorn.” (Another version of the meme said “a really intimidating unicorn.”) Or to quote the author of MBTI Fiction, “[as opposed to the fictionally popular male INFJ] female INTJs are considered an anomaly that you run away from.” (Yes, this was sarcasm– if you are offended, I suggest that you cease to be offended and simply understand the humor of the statement.)
I will admit that as an INTJ female, I found memes and comments like this to be highly amusing and even satisfying, but there is some truth behind the statements.
These comments are hyperboles– something that has been so exaggerated that it is hilarious, and writers should remember this: INTJ females are not (always) out for world domination. Also writers should realize that there is some truth to the statements (hence why they are funny.)
The key to writing any character is complexity, and female INTJs simultaneous have very few feminine traits and are still women. To write a female INTJ character, writers should focus on two foundations: the INTJ part and the “female” part. (Duh.) These two parts of the INTJ female both have to be apparent in the character for your character to be interesting and well rounded—even though, it often appears that the two parts of the INTJ Female clash.
So here are the three basic aspects of the female INTJ: INTJ personality, not your female stereotype, yet still a woman.
- The INTJ Personality: Even though they are female, these characters should still have the INTJ personality.
- INTJs are constant looking at the “big picture”– as in the universal big picture. We love thinking about how our lives related to the universe as a whole and how the whole of humanity interacts and exists. We love theories, and we love to plan. Your INTJ character will constantly be thinking about the ramifications of their actions and various theories about how the universe works.
- Your INTJ characters, male or female, probably will not like being around other people, be very reserved, and will only open up to a few people (literally a few people: three or four). We don’t like stupidity, and we are perfectly happy alone (though we do need one close friend.) Most INTJs will only truly open up around that one (or occasionally two) friend.
- Moreover, INTJs want everything to be explained through logic– however, we fully understand that some things like emotions cannot be explained through logic, and this irritates us to no end, so we tend to suppress/argue against our own emotions while simultaneously analyzing them and seeking to understand. So, outwardly, your INTJ character will probably appear unemotional to other characters.
- INTJs seek to understand everything, so we tend to chase after the truth in a way that abandons most social etiquette and tradition. Two ramifications of this are that we tend to be very blunt and essentially do not feel peer pressure. Also, we tend to be the smartest person in the room (statistically, this is true, by the way), and we know it. So INTJs often struggle with being arrogant or being perceived as such. However, INTJs also tend to be very aware of their own strengths and weaknesses– this can be a good thing because INTJs are constantly seeking to improve themselves; however, this becomes as issue when an INTJ accepts their bad behavior as simply one of their unavoidable weaknesses.
- Outwardly, INTJs can seem really unpredictable. However, there is always a reason behind what we do. INTJs love to plot and plan for anything and everything– from a remotely possible social situation to world domination. So we can appear very decisive when a problem is presented when, in reality, we have simply prepared for the situation before it occurred. However, we typically don’t articulate our plans to other people, so we seem unpredictable when really we have a reason behind everything we do. To be honest, INTJs really cannot be “random” and do not like the idea of being random.
- INTJs tend to be very smart and can follow logical trains of thought very well. Also INTJs are incredibly imaginative and love to deal in the theoretical and abstract. In general, the INTJ is constantly thinking and seeking to understand the world through a rational, logical process, even if we are aware that it is impossible. Your female INTJ will always be working on some project and be working through some intellectual idea.
- Female INTJs do not think or act like the stereotypical woman (or even like most women in general)
- Most women tend to be more sensitive, emotional, and accepting of their emotions (this is not necessarily a bad thing—INTJ tend not to handle emotions very well). The INTJ woman completely defies this stereotype. I am convinced that all INTJs secretly hate emotions and have at one point wished that we were sociopaths, but we simultaneously understand the need for emotions in our lives and are even grateful for them on the very rare occasion. INTJ female will not show outward emotions—or at least, try her hardest not to– and will avoid any type of emotional situation. She also will make most of her decisions based on logic. To give an example, I recently cut approximately two feet of my hair off so that I had a short bob. When a kid asked why I cut my hair, I answered honestly, “This is more practical.” He did not believe me and insisted that there was some other reason (implying an emotional reason). It took me a while to convince him otherwise, and I pretty sure that he still did not believe me. But the real reason why I cut my hair was simple: short hair is more practical for my activities.
- Most people give into or at least feel peer pressure. However, INTJs honestly feel no peer pressure (don’t envy us too much– we have a whole bunch of other problems that more than make up for this.) For the woman, peer pressure has a lot to do with appearance. Why are essentially all women wearing makeup? Even if they say that they are not wearing it for anyone but themselves, they are still accepting the popular belief that makeup make them look prettier (trust me– no one wears makeup because it feels nice on their skin.) INTJ women honestly don’t care what other women are doing and thinking or what any man think of them. We don’t feel a need to look pretty, and some INTJ women simply don’t try to look nice. However, at the same time, INTJ women understand how useful doing their hair and makeup can be. People like beautiful people, and we understand this. So INTJ females may dress nicely to aid in their interaction with others so that they can accomplish their goals or because they enjoy the power that it gives them.
- INTJs hate trivial talk and activities. Your INTJ is going to hate chatting about the latest fashions, who has what boyfriend now, or “crushes”. Because we are strongly driven by logic, we don’t care about fashion, and we know the pattern of boyfriends (they tend to change with the seasons). Talk to us about radical, interesting ideas: politics, moral theories, the ramifications of scientific ideas, or the human condition. But save our sanity and leave your shoes out of this! Essentially, INTJ females don’t like the standard “girl talk” and dread the phrase. This also applies to activities: anything trivial, we don’t like doing. We will go shopping because it is necessary to live, and we will get it over as quickly as possible. There have been instances when INTJs have been known to neglect necessities if we are really interested in a project (for instance, some INTJ will forget to eat when engrossed in a project.) We secretly hate the monotone, daily rituals that keep us alive– even though we fully understand why we need to do them. That is all shopping is to us: a monotone ritual that keeps food in our mouth and clothes on our body.
- INTJ woman don’t flirt. Maybe, you could convince me that one might for manipulation, but INTJ feel very strongly about being themselves and tend to detest manipulation and lying, though they can be very good at it. But chances are that your INTJ female character will not even be aware when someone is flirting or interesting in her, and more than likely, your character will probably not be interesting in them. INTJ are attracted to intelligence and are highly selective about who they let into their lives—this leaves no room for flirtation.
- Female INTJs are still women
- Women can become very emotion according to hormonal cycles. The INTJ woman is no exception. However, when faced with the same intensity of emotions, we tend to try to distance ourselves from the emotions while analyzing the emotions and the cause. The key is that your INTJ woman will show no one what she is going to—we feel that emotions are very private and messy, and we don’t like sharing them with others. Of course, you can always force your INTJ character to share her emotions, but it would be a huge thing and would probably only happen with one other person (this is a great opportunity for a turning point in an INTJ character arc, but use this very sparingly or you will weaken your character). INTJs tend to understand the cause of our emotions really well since we love analyzing things. However, this really only makes emotions all the more frustrating because emotions are not rational. The emotional INTJ woman feels like an alien has taken over her body.
- Female INTJs are still attracted to men. However, we have a very realistic and logical outlook on romance—though we are simultaneously idealist. (See the trouble? Logical, idealistic romance.) Also, we tend to have very high aspirations and plans—way outside of getting married. So we prioritize those plans and tend not to pursue romantic relationships (until it suddenly happens, I suppose? I have no idea—I am not interested in romance right now. You will have to track down another female INTJ to figure this one out.) The statement can be generally made that INTJs tend to be attracted to other people based on intelligence and not physical beauty. The ideal partner for an INTJ is someone who can keep up with their ideas, has the same passions, and will work with them towards their goals.
Hopefully, this post has given you some idea and tips for writing a female INTJ character. I would love to see some more of them in fiction! Have you spotted the elusive female INTJ, or are you writing one? I would love to hear about it or your opinion on female INTJs in the comments.
158 thoughts on “Writing the Female INTJ: The Missing Character”
Just found this article and found it reasonably accurate up until the end. God bless? I don’t understand religion and imaginary friends, unless you want to write a Harry Potter-ish book.
Did you read the title of her blog?
INTJs can or cannot believe in a higher power. It depends on how they analyze themselves, religion, spirituality, and how it fits in to the world around them. Considering her blog she found a way to rationalize her belief in her life. I’m the same way (I’m a Christian), but other INTJs tend to be more skeptical and not believe (not that there is anything wrong with that). It all depends on the individual. Hope this helps.
Although I might not write a book, I love imagining and making up new characters, and I especially like making more interesting personalities for the characters cause everything is so much deeper and you try to get understand them more. I know they aren’t real but I like to imagine they are. This was very insightful and I like the way you wrote it. Thank you and sorry if I have bad grammar. I am an INTP by the way.
Would this constitute Dagny Taggart?
Danny, I was wondering this very thing myself. In fact it was what led me to this post. I myself, am an INTJ. I am reading (and thoroughly enjoying ) Atlas Shrugged right now. Dagny, in particular is striking a particular cord with me. I feel a kinship with her. I believe she would indeed fall under this category.
Hello there. Im really happy to read this post. Not just because it is awesome, but also because Im also a Christian, female teenage INTJ.
It is great to know that there are more of us out there.
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Thank you! I hope you have a great day. I am glad you enjoyed the post.
Thank you for this post!
I have been in the process for two years, creating a INTJ character. However, I am an ENFP, so this helps a lot.
How fun to find this! I just realized that the main character of my book series Forest at the Edge, is an INTJ. I tried to make Mahrree Peto Shin different from all other female characters, and built a little bit of myself into her. I can’t believe it took me this long to realize that my INTJ traits showed up in her. (Double duh.) Great article!
I think you’re over-complicating writing characters. I tried reading your intro to INTJ personalities and it makes no sense. Do the letters stand for something? If this system works for you, then go for it, but it all sounds a bit formulaic. Not everyone fits in a box.
Like I say, if it works for you, but I think it some people could get bogged down by the system, rather than just writing their character.
The letters are from the Myers Briggs test. If you don’t know what that is, there’s a good chance most of this post won’t make sense to you. Yes, the letters do stand for something. I – Introverted N – Intuition T – thinking J – Judging. Most of that also won’t mean anything to you unless you go and read up on Myers Briggs.
I’ll have a read. Thanks.
I am writing a female INTJ character who is best friend to an ESTP (a historical adventure – my INTJ is the planner and the ESTP flies off the seat of her pants). I am trying to make it work! This post is extrememly helpful!
Also, when I read this post I thought of Mattie Ross from True Grit. Would you agree that she is an example of an INTJ heroine? Especially as an older woman!
You just made me realize why I get so antsy when people see me without makeup or dressed shabbily. It’s not about looking pretty–it’s because I’m missing a weapon in my arsenal! (Yes, I’m an INTJ female).
Incidentally, I have tried to write a female INTJ protagonist in my novel IN THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD. I’m not sure how well I did, and in the end fell back on writing her like she was me (to some extent). Going through your bullet points for advice, I think I hit all or most of them. Incidentally, writing an INTJ when you are one is very uncomfortable–it’s like letting people in!
I feel the exact way about my appearance.
“Weapon in my arsenal” love it
I’m an INTJ as well.
I’ve occasionally been called “T’Pol” (she’s a Vulcan) and while it might not be exact, Elinor Dashwood strikes me as a possible INTJ.
Anyway – all I can say is stay true to how God made you. I love being an INTJ. I actually married another INTJ and we have two sons (being a boy mom is fantastic lol!).
We are pretty sure our oldest is also an INTJ. We laugh about how our littlest, an obvious extrovert at 1 years old, is going to be the fun one of the family. None of us will understand him.
You just described me perfectly! I’m a 31-year-old happily married INTJ woman, so if you want insight into that part, let me know. 🙂
I am a teen female INFJ who is also an aspiring writer and a Christian 😀 and I found that many of the things you mentioned apply to me as well. The only thing that I found very different is the way I experience emotions. I honestly don’t understand them most of the times, and I am more likely to express emotions, even if it is unwillingly. I also found that using MBTI for my characters is a good idea and have started to use it myself. Thanks for the great post! God Bless 😀
I’m an INTJ female and appear feminine. I have no brothers and I am much more comfortable around women than men, as they tend to be condescending and underestimate my abilities. Female close friends and colleagues love to talk with me because I am helpful and listen intently. If I am listening I can daydream and not talk. Every once in a while I say something profound and they leave with actionable advice 😛 I also love fashion and find it fascinating how appearance can impact judgement and perception. Fashion, like any other art is very interesting to study.
Also, many people at work think I am an ENTJ. Early in my career I observed what was needed to succeed and I projected what was necessary to advance my career. I am a good manager because I understand happy people do better work. It’s practical. I can see when those around me are uncomfortable and take actions to increase comfort. I don’t personally care about their feelings, it is simply another “problem” that needs to be solved.
My basic point is an INTJ female can be a chameleon, but her inner thoughts and motivations are exactly as you described. My behavior may be misconstrued as caring or loving, but my motivation is to achieve specific goals- to make the world a more efficient and effective place for all, but mostly for me. The only problem is people want get closer and I eventually I have to come clean and tell them I hate people including them.
Wow,I never thought to read something that describes me just like this!
I had a hard time finding out that I’m an INTJ since I’m pretty good at small talk in the way that I know what others want to hear / is expected to get on to the real part that interests me. It’s part of me being efficient and trying to reach my goal as soon as possible.
Female INTJ character – Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone?
As a female INFJ whose main character is an INTJ, this was overall really helpful. I reeeally hope this doesn’t come across as rude but I found your assessment of why people wear makeup a tiny bit judgemental (though I know that the written word often makes things sound more harsh than they were intended!) Though one of the many reasons why I wear makeup is to look nice when I want to, that’s about 4th on the list of about 20 reasons why it gives me happiness! Namely, I just love product in itself; how it looks on my dressing table or in a photograph. I also love the valuable moments of peace my routine gives me to mentally prepare for the day 🙂 I actually blog about beauty and have an INTJ blogger friend who says they pretty much feel the same way! They also enjoy shopping. I kind of think that little quirks outside of type also help to make a character real and not a charicature, if that makes sense?
I am an ENFP writer creating a female INTJ historical character. My question for you is, while INTJs feel no peer pressure, how do they deal with reputation, morally I mean. My character wants to and is going to do what’s right but it means her reputation will be ruined and so instead of fighting the rumors out in the open, she runs away and starts her life over. Thoughts?
Hi, Penelope. So I have no read this post in over a year, and some of my opinion have changed.
First, INTJs do feel peer pressure (though perhaps not as much as many people); they just tend to ignore it as irrelevant and detrimental. Sometimes this works well, sometimes it frustrates the INTJ when they are feeling peer pressure and don’t want to.
As for thoughts on your story, here they are. It would make sense for your INTJ not to care about her reputation and do what is right anyways. INTJ have emotions, but they want to rule their emotions with reason in the context of the larger picture. So don’t be afraid to let your character feel peer pressure, but have her approach the feeling head on and reason her way out of it (you may even want to consider having her be frustrated at herself for feeling peer pressure.) She may or may not openly fight the rumors (depending on her reasoning and personality outside of the type), but I am a little hesitant about the running away. Running away would most likely be a very emotional response, though it could be rational if the society will not let your character function in it. But if your character is merely getting glares, mean looks, and rumors, then I doubt an INTJ would allow their emotions to rule them and make them leave.
Does that help?
I’m also a teenaged Christian female INTJ. It’s always great to know that there are people similar to you out there. I’m also an aspiring novelist and small fragments of my personality do tend to show up in my characters. I enjoy creating interesting and relatively charming villains that lean toward the realm of INTJ-ness as well. I’ve always considered making my own blog… It’s just that I don’t want to distract myself from school. I am a member of 16personalities.com and actively post comments on the threads there. I’d certainly recommend it to you. There’s an entire section of the forum dedicated to creative writing!
Also, as an INTJ, I can be quite spontaneous at times (but only with very close friends – one INTJ in particular is in many of the same fandoms as I am, so we ‘fangirl’ together on a regular basis). Also, as that annoying INTJ Grammar Nazi, I’d recommend double-checking your spelling and punctuation on posts (I distinctly remember sirens blaring in my head when I read ‘insite’ instead of ‘insight’). My brain went into mental lockdown when I saw the number of sentences beginning with conjunctions. As a highly-analytical INTJ, I was compelled to read all the comments before posting my own. I agree with one in particular (don’t remember who wrote it) that compared us to chamaeleons. We’re brilliant actors and can pretend to be ‘normal girls’ quite well, despite it being incredibly painful and seemingly unnecessary. I’ve learnt to feign sympathy and guilt (and know that logically, I should have these emotions, but don’t ‘feel bad’ about it). I actually get more emotional about fictional characters than (most) real people (of course, this is internal turmoil and I would never reveal it to anyone). Also, about the peer-pressure thing… I think it’s more likely a matter of pride. ‘I have created a reputation for myself and I know that I am intellectually superior to most (re: all) people and I intend to keep it that way,’ said every INTJ.
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I just so happened to stumble across this blog, and I have been pleasantly surprised by all that I have found. As a fellow female INTJ Christian, tomboy, hunter, also is writing a fantasy novel, I almost feel like we’re friends who’ve never met. (Weird, huh? The wonders of the internet I guess.) I appreciate your perspective on prophecies and allegories, and I whole-heartedly agree with your description of the life of an INTJ female. I also enjoyed reading the first chapter of your novel (even though I’m more of a third person limited kind of person – ha ha, cue the debate!) But seriously, I wish you the best throughout your publishing journey and beyond!
Nice to meet you, Lauren! We do have a lot of similarities, and I have to admit– I actually hate first person POV. When I was in middle school, I wisely decided to try and write in our POVs. I stupidly chose to write an entire novel is a POV I had never written in before. Oh well.
I hope your fantasy novel is going well, and I look forward to seeing you around!
As a fellow INTJ female, I appreciate this post. Also, I’m glad I’m not the only person who views shopping as a necessary evil. 😀 And yes, I hate flirting/being flirted with because it always feels emotionally manipulative. I do have to say, though, that I do, in fact, wear makeup for comfort sometimes. :O A good oil-absorbing makeup primer helps my skin feel less greasy. 😉
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Re: INTJ women and romance: they approach this the same way they approach anything. They have a semi-conscious awareness of what the right partner would be like, and when they meet the person that they are reasonably sure is the right partner for them, they move in. Looks impulsive, but it really isn’t. Just like the article described.
It’s been years since you post this but i kinda want to leave comment. This post actually describe female intj accurately (unlike a few other). Yeah it’s really rare to see female intj in fiction. Maybe i should try to make female intj character but had different value than mine lol.
Also, the hair cut incident. I experience the same thing in the past, but instead of bob i cut it pixie style (messily, and made my mom beautify it). My family makes a fuss over it somehow.
Found an article that most likely describe who I really am!
Well, if you want to write an INTJ female character…don’t bother. You can’t. Unless you are an INTJ woman yourself.
I’m INTJ woman and I’ve always written about MALE characters who are IxTJs (not necessarily INTJ though, but a bit of a middle type) or INFPs or ISFJs. The only time I wrote about an INTJ female was when I wrote the story of my childhood and teenage years. So what does it look like? It’s essentially a network of thoughts, accounts, reflections and sarcastic observations about whatever happened at that time. I don’t think it would be endearing enough for people to read.
Another reason why I think it is impossible to write an INTJ female character is that most characters bring value to a story as long as they have tight links/relationships with the main character. INTJs are just rogue individualistic people: they often run away from the “let’s-do-this-together” mushiness that society values. Though, In the case of male INTJs, society will value their drive and determination and larger-than-life struggles and accomplishments.
But an INTJ female? No. Too subversive, too unpalatable, too “out there” and…threatening. I know about this, because that’s how people see me at my workplace and in life in general. It doesn’t matter how much I contribute, how groundbreaking I am at solving problems or how efficiently I do beyond what is expected of me. There is definitely LESS acknowledgement/respect, but more of a diffuse feeling of competition, and at time, a lot of reactionary attitudes.
I don’t blame the world for being what it is: you need to have conservatism and traditions for rule-breakers and pioneers to exist. However, I question this assumption that people often have against females who gets isht done their own way (i.e ExTJs and IxTJs): the idea being that women who value doing things on their own with their own resources are trying to show they are “better than everyone else”. Ugh. Such regressive and self-victimising tropes are just beyond any rationality.
Yet, this is precisely why, if you want your books to sell and to reach a larger audience, you are definitely NOT going to give a major part to an INTJ female. That would be ruining the chances of your book ever selling. So be reasonable and do your career a favour: stick to the conventional because that’s what people want, even when they keep proclaiming the opposite.
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Hi! I am very glad I stumbled upon this post. I’m currently writing a female INTJ in my story and it can at times be difficult to get inside her head (I’m an INFJ). This article helped me understand the personality type better. I’m very grateful. ^.^
Oh my word! Hi! I’m am an INTJ female and let me tell you, you hit EVERYTHING square on the head.
Love how you took the time to explain certain aspects of our extremely colorful personality, even me myself sometimes struggle to figure it out…. Lol!
Great post. Loved it. And I agree, Hollywood needs to put in some effort and put more INTJ females on the silver screen 😎
This description sounds more like autism… Try novels that feature characters on the spectrum (which we also need more of).
So, the typical INTJ female character would be that “i’m not like the other girls and i’m so special” girl we see everywhere. No wonder there’s so few of them in fiction, annoying as hell
1)They would not care about telling people that they are different
2)They would not even try to appear that they are like a noraml girl because they do not care about how people veiw them
3)They would try their best to look normal so people would not ask them why they are strange and waste their time.
Forging Hephaestus by Drew Hayes! The main character is an INTJ female, and VERY well done. (She probably fits your description better than I do 😏).
After reading her, I realized that I had never actually read a T female before. The way she thought and interacted with the world was, occasionally, word for word how I do.
For example, at one point she was trying to decide whether or not to trust someone, and the thought process went like: if I trust them at this point, they might betray me. As a result, I would lose some money. However, I would also know not to trust them again, in a potentially more dangerous situation.
Another time, she and a guy (moody teen with daddy issues) are talking and in any other story it would go into heart-to-heart, understanding each other more deeply, and then emotional drama and realizing that they like each other. But instead, she gives him good, well thought out advice on how to deal with his problems, and they stay friends.
The story has a lot more focus on building respect and friendships than on romance and emotional rollercoasters. The story is about a world with superheroes and supervillains (a little bit like Marissa Meyer’s Renegades trilogy), but unlike Renegades, I can really respect the main character, and the other characters! It felt different from any other book I’ve read, and is definitely one of my new favorites.
(Probably should warn—there’s quite a bit of language, and some violence)