The direction of this film is far better than it has any right to be. Many of the scenes are well framed and stylish looking, reminiscent of a '70s Italian crime flick. There's some effective music and a sub-plot running over the film's duration that takes place entirely outside of the prison, charting the misadventures of some gangsters. I love how Garrone shows us that this is a coastal prison by dubbing in the sounds of seagulls and waves without ever actually showing the sea once.
The women-in-prison stuff is quite sleazy and we know this from the off with a particularly unpleasant scene of torture against one particular woman. From then on in, the story follows the familiar pattern, although it does have a stronger plot than some as inmates strive toward an ultimate goal. There are cat fights, shower scenes, lesbianism, a horny male guard, and a sadistic warden, all played out much as you'd expect. There isn't enough plot to sustain the running time, however, so there are some repetitive softcore couplings that seem to go on for an age which are just there to pad out the running time. They had me reaching for the fast-forward button.
The main role is given to Ajita Wilson, a transsexual actress who made a successful career out of being a woman in a series of erotic and pornographic films made in Italy. I can't say that Wilson is attractive, but she does have a commanding presence and is the best actor in the film. Still, some of the supports aren't too bad; Rita Silva's warden is thoroughly despicable and Linda Jones, who apparently had a bit part in STAR WARS, is my favourite character, a tough inmate who lives by violence. Speaking of which, the violent content ranges from the absurd and slightly amusing (one character drowned in the sewer) to the surprisingly vicious – a bloody throat stabbing which comes out of nowhere and is one of the grisliest I've witnessed. Still, although there is some talent involved in this, it's still a lacklustre, predictable, and unoriginal offering in a genre best forgotten.