Before we dive in and take a closer look at the French fantasy horror movie, The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou, let’s address a couple of things first. One, this review contains spoilers.
Two, the movie’s title. It sometimes also appears as The Strange Case of Jackie Calliou. For this post, I’m running with the first variation (The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou) since that’s how it was written on the screener I watched from Dark Star Pictures. However, in the opening title credits, it drops “The Strange Case of” and just goes with Jacky Caillou.
Which, let’s talk about Jacky, the protagonist and titular character. He’s sort of an odd duck, and at first, we don’t know why.
The movie begins with him using an old tape recorder and one of those microphones with a cone around it. (If I’ve done my Googling properly, I believe they’re called parabolic microphones.)
Anyway, he’s recording sounds in a house. What’s he listening for? And is he some sort of sicko spying on the old woman who’s also in the house? What’s she doing behind her closed door, by the way? And with whom? Judging from the sounds he’s picking up, he might be eavesdropping on an intimate moment.
In a way, he is. But it wasn’t the kind of intimacy my dirty mind first envisioned. The woman is working with a client, trying to heal them because that’s what she does.
And maybe that’s the best place to start, with what the movie is about before we progress into the review of it.
Jacky Caillou synopsis
Here’s the movie’s description from a press release:
"When Jacky’s grandmother, a renowned healer, suddenly passes away and a particularly compelling young woman with a mysterious rash arrives on his doorstep, he has no choice but to stay and try to help. As her condition worsens, it becomes clear that she’s afflicted with no ordinary illness. She’s transforming into something dangerous before his eyes, but he’s already in too deep to abandon her."
It was written by Lucas Delangle (who also directs) and Olivier Strauss.
The cast includes Thomas Parigi (Jacky), Edwige Blondiau (Gisele Caillou, Jacky’s grandma), Lou Lampros (Elsa), Jean-Louise Coulloc’h (Elsa’s father, Herve), Romain Laguna (Jacky’s friend and local policeman, Mathieu), Georges Isnard (Mr. Bert), and Sivan Garavagno (Loic).
Jacky Caillou, a sort of werewolf movie
Elsa is the “compelling young woman” with the rash (that they call a “stain” in the movie) who seeks Jacky’s grandma’s help.
Jacky and his cute, quirky and wise grandma share a heartwarming bond. Even though she gives him a hard time, it’s clear she adores him and vice versa. She tries to help Elsa but senses the young woman isn’t telling her everything.
Sadly, the grandma dies suddenly, leaving Jacky to try and figure out Elsa’s secret and whether or not he can help with her affliction. Because, like his grandma, his hands also hold the gift of healing.
At first, he thinks he is curing Elsa. Her rash starts to clear up. But then it gets worse and morphs from a scaly patch on her back into a furry one. The same kind of fur that the wolf had, which suddenly appeared in the forest after Elsa disappeared during a rendezvous there with Jacky.
The town’s been abuzz with rumors a wolf is roaming around. One of Jacky’s grandma’s clients, Mr. Bert, is sure that’s what’s killing his sheep.
Alas, he’s right.
Jacky tries to protect Elsa by locking her in a room in his house. But Mr. Bert suspects something is up, likely because his son, Loic, catches Jacky stealing a lamb one night. (A lamb he gives to Elsa.) Mr. Bert and Loic come to Jacky’s house, find the wolf, Loic gets hurt, and the wolf escapes.
The trouble is, it’s not clear if the wolf hurt Loic or if he was injured by the single gun shot Mr. Bert gets off. We hear the action happening, but we don’t see it. The camera is focused on Jacky.
Anyway, the town forms a hunting party, much to Jacky’s dismay. Worse, no one believes him when he pleads with them to listen to him. Well, except for Elsa’s father, Herve, that is. He feared Elsa was becoming a wolf. But as far as everyone else, no. They won’t listen to Jacky, but they also don’t succeed in their mission. Elsa, in wolf form, which appears what she’ll remain in, escapes.
Loic survives his injury, but since we don’t know how he sustained it, is there a chance in time he’ll meet the same fate as Elsa?
Who will like Jacky Caillou
If you like how the French approach horror and fantasy, The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou is a good addition, but it’s not bloody or gruesome like some French horror movies can be. It’s also not jump scare scary.
It’s full of cinematographic poetry, though, as well as symbolism. (Particularly when it comes to trees and the act of hearing sounds.) Filmed on location in Vallee de L’Issole and Verdon, it’s brimming with an abundance of beautiful French countryside scenery too.
It’s also a little slow, but the characters make you want to watch to see what happens. Or at least, they made me want to.
The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou releases in select theaters (Los Angeles and New York City) on April 7. Then it’ll be available on digital, On Demand and DVD on April 11.
Jacky Caillou trailer (French)
Sadly, I couldn’t find a trailer that included English subtitles, but rest assured, the movie has them. And even if you don’t speak French, you can still infer what’s happening in the trailer and get a sense of whether this movie would be for you or not.
Do you like French horror movies too? Is Jacky Caillou one you’d be interested in checking out? We’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment and let us know!