His name is Hallam (Bell), and he likes to watch. Living in a tree house, this disturbed young Scot peeps on the local Highlanders, keeping his distance from the world after his mother’s untimely death. (I don’t remember voyeurism being part of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief, but perhaps they’ve added a sixth since I last checked in.) An evil stepmother (Forlani) straight out of a Grimm fairy tale sends Hallam to Edinburgh, where he spies Kate (Myles), a hotel manager who looks exactly like his late mum. The lad talks his way into a porter job at her work; soon, he’s peering through Kate’s skylight and insinuating himself into his maternal surrogate’s life.
Rather than turn his oedipal antihero into Norman Bates Jr., filmmaker David Mackenzie (Young Adam) envisions Hallam as an updated version of the U.K.’s anticonformist ’60s kooks; as played by Bell, he could be the love child of David Warner’s Morgan Delt and any of Rita Tushingham’s mod misfits. (An alternate title: This Charming Sociopath.) The approach actually works, with the oddball levity offsetting an unexpected left turn into Punch-Drunk Love territory. It’s a pity the third act takes a pop-therapeutic nosedive, yet for most of its running time, Mister Foe works its maladjusted mojo into something truly unsettling and uniquely twisted.