Shadow Kill is about the executioner, his dilemmas and morality. The film is set in the southern principality Tavancore in the period before independence, where Kaliyappan may have the material benefits of his work, but has trouble coping with the social isolation and guilt feelings. Largely because many of the executions involve a political element which triumphs over justice. The film starts when Kaliyappan has just hung someone he is sure is innocent. He turns to the bottle to forget. When a following execution approaches and, at the traditional toast in advance, one of his colleagues tells a horrific story about the rape and murder of a young girl, the drunken executioner imagines it is his own daughter.
Gopalakrishnan mixes different narrative styles in a very controlled way. The result is an intelligent and moving story about free will, fate, society and guilt. Gopalakrishnan: `Empathy is a complex process. It is defined as the projection of one's own personality into the personality of another in order to understand him or her better. How does one develop a feeling of kindredness and have concern for another human fellow being? How does someone else's agony and pain become your own? How does it torment you and make you feel guilty and remorseful?'