For all its improbability and rigorous emotion, Desperate does have its moments of quiet suspense and tension. Cimino often gets good performances and does so here. But when it's all over, nothing really unexpected has happened, and it has taken a lot of unpleasant moments to get through the desperate hours. [11 Oct 1990, p.C09]
Rourke is, in fact, exceedingly creepy. There's an unpredictable, resonant menace in his eccentricity. But Cimino can't connect the movie's thriller elements to its themes. We end up spending way too much time indoors while this thug waves a gun at these poor innocents.
The most desperate thing about Desperate Hours is Michael Cimino’s attempt to direct it coherently. In Cimino’s paws, the story of a merciless crook (Mickey Rourke) terrorizing a suburban family descends into lurid gibberish.