This article contains major spoilers for the Irul ending.
In many ways, Irul is a simple film. There are only three characters and one main setting, and the entire plot hinges on a single revelation – whether the film’s author protagonist Alex or the mysterious man Unni is the serial killer written about in Alex’s book, Irul. But an ambitious script that’s trying a bit too hard to keep the audience guessing means there’s a lot more to unpack than just the killer’s identity.
Alex, like virtually every writer character in every piece of fiction ever made, has nightmares; he wakes up from one at the start of the film and spends the rest of it in another. The only problem is that the second nightmare has made its way into the waking world, and has endangered both Alex and his partner, Archana, who is stranded with him in a well-appointed but secluded house where they both encounter Unni and the dead body in the basement.
Alex has taken Archana on this getaway on the pretense of spending some needed quality time together, but also for a surprise which turns out to be both a revelation – he was planning to propose – and a major clue, since Unni is in possession of several other engagement rings that he supposedly stole from the house, which is revealed to belong to Alex. Since the serial killer subject of Alex’s book murdered five women and the body in the basement matches that killer’s MO, it doesn’t take the most discerning mind to put those pieces together.
But the Irul ending isn’t as simple as that. Alex is convinced that Unni is the killer, and Unni seems convinced that Alex is, but they disagree on the details and motive of the killer. Unni claims to be familiar with the book but disagrees that the murderer has a vendetta against women. Is it idle, morbid curiosity? Something else? Perhaps even art?
Through various clues in the film’s script, not all of which are logical or make the greatest amount of sense, Unni is able to finesse a scenario in which Archana kills Alex, believing him to be the killer, but in a straight-to-camera admission, Unni declares that he is “the truth” that both have been looking for – seemingly a confirmation of his guilt. This is confirmed in a news report during the credits, which reveals that Alex and Archana were both found dead alongside another woman and that Alex wasn’t responsible for killing either of the women. The Irul ending is rare in that the bad guy seemingly gets away with it.
The subtext of all this is arguably more interesting than the actual revelation since the loaded conversations between Alex and Unni about motive and psychology give some meat to the bones of a lean thriller. With the final revelation about Unni, a lot of the preceding events develop more clarity, and the narcissism of a killer reading a book of his own exploits lends some of the depth to the murderer that Unni thought was missing in the first place.