The premise of the new Maine film “Killing Toni”: “A guy gathers his friends together to murder his ex-girlfriend once he finds out she’s a lesbian.”

It’s a comedy.

If comedy is hard, then dark comedy is harder. Creating laughs out of subjects (in the case of “Killing Toni,” murder, misogyny and homophobia) which are patently offensive is the most delicate of balancing acts. When it works, it’s either because it’s satirizing the egregious behavior of its characters or because of the ridiculousness of its subject. Or perhaps with a willingness to go so far over the top, astonished laughter is the only defense.

If it doesn’t work, well, it’s just mean, stupid and gratuitously offensive.

I spoke with co-director/co-star Jim “Uke” Doiron about “Killing Toni,” which opens tonight at the Nickelodeon in Portland.

“The movie has nothing to do with hating gays,” he said. “The main character is so hurt by (the breakup). Everyone has said, ‘I wanna kill my ex.’ Unfortunately, his cousin is a nutjob and decides to start planning to actually do it, and when Jack finds out (she’s gay), he gets really upset.”

And decides to kill her.

Doiron went on to discuss the film’s budget ($400), its fast pace (he and his co-stars do all their own stunts), his cinematic heroes (John Carpenter and Robert Rodriguez) and his gratitude to the Nick (“the best resource for local filmmakers in southern Maine”). He was clearly enthusiastic about his first feature film.

Still

Doiron admits there has been some criticism of his film already. “Someone saw a clip online and said it should be banned because it’s anti-gay,” he said. (That clip was also all this reviewer was able to see.)

“As filmmakers, we (Mainiac Films) like to push the envelope. We like controversy,” he said. “Controversy equals popularity. ‘Killing Toni’ is meant to be an actual stupid comedy. This wouldn’t happen in real life; there is really no realism to this.”

So, does “Killing Toni” somehow transcend its premise and find the elusive heart of the blackest comedy? Or is it just, well, mean, stupid and gratuitously offensive?

Judge for yourself tonight. 

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.