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Review: 'Don't Breathe' is a well-plotted, thrilling trap

| Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Stephen Lang plays a blind man defending his home from burglars in the thriller 'Dont Breathe.'
Sony
Stephen Lang plays a blind man defending his home from burglars in the thriller 'Dont Breathe.'
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Jane Levy in a scene from 'Dont Breathe.' (Gordon Timpen/Sony/Screen Gems via AP)
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Jane Levy in a scene from 'Dont Breathe.' (Gordon Timpen/Sony/Screen Gems via AP)
This image released by Sony Pictures shows, from left, Daniel Zovatto, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette in a scene from 'Dont Breathe.' (Gordon Timpen/Sony/Screen Gems via AP)
This image released by Sony Pictures shows, from left, Daniel Zovatto, Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette in a scene from 'Dont Breathe.' (Gordon Timpen/Sony/Screen Gems via AP)

To all you Detroit-area robbery crews, we should probably warn you right away: It's just not a good idea to pick 1837 Buena Vista St. for your big score. Take our word for it, walk away.

You won't? Fine. Then beware, you are walking into the well-plotted trap of Fede Alvarez, who made his Hollywood debut with the reboot of the horror classic “Evil Dead,” and returns this month with “Don't Breathe.” It pits a team of inept burglars against a homeowner who fights back. In that sense, it's kind of like a twisted “Home Alone” for millennials.

The would-be predators become hunted by the surprisingly spry old man, who, although blind, happens to be a military veteran and comfortable with all sorts of weapons. Oh, did we mention his rather nasty dog?

Written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues and clocking in at 88 minutes, “Don't Breathe” is almost a throw-back to older horror films. It's meticulously planned and thrillingly satisfying — if you see an array of sharp tools near the beginning, bet on them being used at some point.

The set-up stars three young Detroiters — a brutish Daniel Zovatto, his girlfriend, Jane Levy, and their smart friend, Dylan Minnette. They've bought into that cliche that somehow makes robbers less villainous — one last job and they're out.

“If we do it right, we never have to do it again,” the woman promises. That turns out to be correct, but not in the way she means.

In their way is Stephen Lang, playing the blind guy. He harbors a dirty little secret that the trio soon uncovers, and most of the film is spent with everyone rushing about in his claustrophobic home. Everyone seems to die multiple times, even the dog.

The plot gets ludicrous by the end, but there were moments at a preview where a pin could drop and make more noise than one of the burglars trying to do what the movie title demands.

Mark Kennedy is an Associated Press entertainment writer.

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