Alienating. The dramatic stakes are detached, the character's nothing more than pawns for a narrative that's nothing more than a series of vignettes without a sense of destination. The plot itself is ordinary, the directing is rather bland. It tries to show harsh prison life, but something about it feels just a little too polite and safe, apparent even in the rape scene that is far from as horrifying as it should be.
I started to get legitimately frustrated at the on-screen attitudes of the authority figures and the relentless punishment for all actions, no matter what. Alan Clarke's later work seems to transition away from this skullbashing into theatrical, socio-economic depression, until Elephant, where all the contextless rage from this seems to reappear.