The Hillard's are your average suburban family, with a father (Fredric March), mother (Martha Scott), grown daughter (Mary Murphy), and young son (Richard Eyer). One day, their organized routine is disrupted when a trio of escaped convicts, led by Humphrey Bogart, invade their home and force them at gunpoint to keep their existence quite.
The movie is not that far from a horror film; you have the home invasion angle and the characters making stupid decisions that elongate their trial. However, what raises The Desperate Hours above most other films covering the same ground is its brief shocking bits of violence. There's no blood, but there are guns being used as a club, as well as breaking of glass, china, and furniture. As the criminals feel more at home, the family, particularly the patriarch, take to using more and more desperate measures to try to get them out of their house. What results is a tense, if slightly overlong, film that toys with the security that one would normally feel in suburbia, topped by stellar performances from March, Scott, Bogart, and Arthur Kennedy as the deputy sheriff put in charge of the manhunt.