"The Outing" (citywide) looks like, sounds like, and feels like some cretinous violent tale of teen-agers venturing into the wilds to be sliced up by a half man/half animal. The film pretty much delivers on this expectation but not quite.

To begin with the people who made up the ads (trees in the background, four youths with shocked expressions and a shimmering lake) failed to notice that the film's setting is urban Houston. The outing of the title is an overnight camp-out in a museum where fair Alex's (Andra St. Ivanyi) widowed father is curator. So, "Misguided Tour" more correctly describes what's executed on the screen.

The action begins in traditional gratuitous fashion. A trio of dim-witted robbers savagely murder an old woman for her rumored fortune. In a chest secreted behind a wall of her house they discover an ancient lamp, which, when rubbed, produces noxious fumes and an evil spirit who exacts the vilest retribution upon them. Unquestionably, he was rubbed the wrong way.

The lamp naturally winds up at the museum and, like Pandora, Alex unleashes its fury. However, before the massacre of the movie's last half-hour, the hitherto (and still) unheralded creative team of Warren Chaney (writer-producer) and Tom Daley (director) get in some social commentary (a single parents' dilemma) and provide the audience with yet another examination of how modern teen-agers relate.

"The Outing" (MPAA-rated R for graphic acts of violence and some nudity) maintains the peculiar rationale that evil exists simply to terrorize youthful audiences. All other considerations (logic, craft, originality, etc.) are unceremoniously banished.

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