Connect with us

Foreign Movie

Movie Review: “Sleuthhound Screwball” – murder, mystery and a sleuth hound.



Holden Pollak’s latest feature film venture,Sleuthhound Screwball,is an interesting dabble into the indie comedy genre, set against the backdrop of Palos Verdes, California, in the 1970s.

This film presents a decent blend of mystery, crime, and humour, albeit with its own set of flaws. Its quirky narrative focuses on James Miller (played by Christian Vierling), an immature and inexperienced private investigator who witnesses the murder of an attorney tied to a bizarre surfer gang known as the Luanda Bay Boys.

James Miller, primarily engaged in the less glamorous side of private investigation, which is spying on a cheating spouse witnesses the murder of an attorney, an event that serves as the film’s inciting incident.  

His marriage seems to be failing because of his dedication to his work. Interestingly, his wife sees more potential in him than he sees in himself, believing he has what it takes to be a legitimate investigator rather than just a snoop. He witnesses a prostitute murderer an attorney. But it spears the killing has more to it. He finds out that it is all connected to a strange cult that poses as surfers. Committed to getting to the bottom of it James partners with his friend Matthew to get the bottom of the case.

Christian Vierling and Oliver Cooper in Sleuthhound Screwball (2024)

Christian Vierling and Oliver Cooper in Sleuthhound Screwball (2024)

Christian Vierling delivers an okay performance as James Miller. He possesses the looks and charm necessary for a leading man and manages to keep the story afloat with his earnest portrayal. However, he does seem to struggle with the comedic elements that the film demands, leaving some humorous moments feeling a bit forced.

Fortunately, Oliver Cooper’s portrayal of Matthew provides a much-needed balance. He plays a goofball, misfit with a foulmouth who wants so much to also be a snoop. He is introduced to us in the film as a struggling magician with no talent or skill for the craft. He has to rely on James to pull off his stage performance.

Together these two characters become the centre of the film with their quest to solve this mystery.

The film introduces a variety of colourful characters that add richness to the story. Notably, Hollywood ace Eric Roberts has an interesting role in this film just like Pollak‘s last film R (2023)

Sleuthhound Screwball unmistakably has the look and feel of a small-budget indie project. Pollak’s direction keeps the audiovisual elements basic, with sound recorded on location. This choice leaves us with an authentic, albeit unpolished, quality of the film. The ambient noises, echoes, and occasional interferences are noticeable, yet they contribute to the film’s raw charm. The gunshot sounds, however, are convincingly practical, adding something to the action sequences.

The film’s score is a funky, upbeat jazzy soundtrack that fits perfectly with the 1970s setting and the film’s themes of crime and mystery. It enhances the overall atmosphere, making the era come alive.

Also, Pollak’s cinematography choice for this film remains simple, with a few dynamic camera movements that break from the typical 1970s film style. The colour palette is predominantly warm with an orange hue, evoking a nostalgic, retro feel that effectively situates the story in its period.

However, one of the film’s significant drawbacks is its pacing. The dialogue-heavy scenes, especially those involving James and Matthew, often drag on longer than necessary. Their discussions about their feelings, opinions of each other, and their cases tend to slow the narrative pace, making the 1h 30m runtime feel longer than it should. This over-reliance on dialogue sometimes makes the story feel stagnant, as though some scenes exist solely to stretch the film to a full feature length.

Despite its budget constraints, the film excels in its production design. The props and costuming are meticulously chosen to reflect the era. The cars, in particular, align perfectly with the 1970s setting, adding to the film’s believability and immersive quality.

“Sleuthhound Screwball stands out as a well-crafted indie comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. While it has its narrative flaws and moments where it drags, the film is ultimately a light-hearted, entertaining watch. Pollak’s direction, combined with the performances of Vierling and Cooper, ensures that it fits comfortably within the niche of indie sleuth comedies without veering into cheesiness.

This film generally feels better put together than Holden Pollak‘s last outing we have seen R (2023). But the story attempts to tell how it does not leave you with much to desire. I will score this 5/10.

For fans of the genre and those looking for a nostalgic, humorous but no so cheesy take on a sleuth story set in the 70s,Sleuthhound Screwballmight just be the film for you.

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.


Pay only 35% upfront fee for film gear rental.

GhMovieFreak TV

#BloGhAwards18 Winner

GhMoviefreak is an official media partner for