Instead, we're treated to an overcomplicated backstory, less-than-urgent dangers, and a ineffectually vaporous villain. Even the film's Southern gothic trappings get pushed aside in favor of a cliched will-she/won't-she-turn-evil plot line that, in the end, cops out with a bit of smoke and mirrors. LaGravenese rounds out his cast of hastily sketched supporting characters with unknown but blandly handsome teens while relying on Irons and Thompson (who hams it up as both a religious zealot and sneering sorceress) for waggish color. Unfortunately, the veteran actors seem like they're in a completely different movie. It's Oscar-nominated Viola Davis, however, who suffers the greatest indignity in a role that can literally be described as a magic Negro. Her character, Amma, holds down not one but two jobs-housekeeper and supernatural librarian-and both require that she serve white people.