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'Zepotha' is social media's favorite film — but it doesn't exist

The fictional 1980s horror film was invented by Emily Jeffri, a musician who goes by “Jeffri” on TikTok.
Distorted 90s TV set with "Zepotha" title across the frame diagonally
"What if we created a fake 80s horror movie called 'Zepotha,'" Emily Jeffri, a musician who goes by “Jeffri,” asked viewers on TikTok.Leila Register / NBC News; Getty Images; @dlif.lover via TikTok

“Zepotha” is finally getting the recognition it deserves, according to its many TikTok fans.

Some users are posting makeup looks inspired by the 1980s horror movie. Others are engaging in cosplay, or making videos about which character they think they look the most like (Maxine appears to be the unanimous pick). Several people are also sharing their film-inspired artwork.

But everything about the lore surrounding the film is made up — just like the movie itself.

And it all began as a joke. Over the weekend, Emily Jeffri, a musician who goes by “Jeffri” on TikTok and Instagram, posted a video to both platforms, in which she suggested a “new bit idea."

"What if we created a fake 80s horror movie called 'Zepotha' & started commenting, 'omg u look EXACTLY like that one girl from Zepotha,' or 'wait u look exactly like _____ from Zepotha' on every thirst trap we see," they wrote. "Together we will witness new lore develop, main characters will emerge, etc. & we can convince thousands of people that this weirdly titled 80s horror film actually exists."

On TikTok, Jeffri's video has been viewed more than 5.1 million times. Her idea quickly took off on social media, with the hashtag gaining more 84.1 million views in TikTok as of Monday afternoon.

It has also inspired a lively Reddit thread with 1,500 users. One Reddit user in the thread wrote they are launching a Discord server to "work together to make a more cohesive story and content!" Another Reddit user posted that they had created a "CANON DOC" about the fictional film, where they referred to its fans as "real Zepothians."

"Zepotha is an online project that started out as a fake movie to market music, but the community has grown beyond the original purpose and have been working to create a 'real' Zepotha," the document reads.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, some said they were already over the “Zepotha” trend just as the nonexistent film was gaining traction.

Followers of Jeffri suggested that the “Zepotha” trend was likely a marketing ploy for the artist's upcoming album “SOUNDTRACK FOR AN 80’S HORROR MOVIE,” which debuts on Aug. 25.

“‘Zepotha’ is the smartest marketing trick I’ve seen in awhile. Nearly 7000 videos in a day is insane,” one person tweeted.

Many of the “Zepotha” videos, including the first one from Jeffri, are set to her song “DO YOU REMEMBER ME.”

Jeffri did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

She clarified in a TikTok video posted Sunday that she's not behind any of the accounts claiming to be official “Zepotha” related content.

“I spoke to some of them though, they seem quite cool they just want to have fun and join in the meme,” Jeffri said. “I’m not mad or anything ... but again it’s just not me.” 

"Zepotha" is not the first fake film to go viral.

Last year, Tumblr users became obsessed with “Goncharov,” which they claimed was a 1973 mafia movie directed by Martin Scorsese. It garnered similar fervor from people online, with people creating artwork, characters and cosplays.

Scorsese's daughter Francesca, an actor, filmmaker and prominent TikToker, shared a text exchange with the legendary director, in which she asked him if he had seen the buzz around "Goncharov" on social media. In the message, Scorsese appeared to jokingly respond, "Yes. I made that film years ago."