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Screenshot 2023-08-15 at 14.21.44
Zepotha trailerHayley Kalil /Youtube

Zepotha, the viral horror film that doesn’t actually exist

A single TikTok spawned literally thousands of memes, now the entire internet can’t get enough of Zepotha

If, like me, you spent the weekend short-circuiting your own brain with the mindless scroll of the TikTok algorithm, then you may have noticed the same few phrases popping up in comment sections across the platform. “You look exactly like that one girl from Zepotha,” said one user. “OMG were you in that film Zepotha?” asked another. What with Barbie, Oppenheimer and the glut of summer blockbusters dominating your feed, you’d be forgiven for missing a much smaller release. But was it really possible that this film had materialised from nowhere?

Well, in short, the answer is no, Zepotha didn’t materialise from nowhere. It actually doesn’t exist.

On Saturday (August 12) the TikTok user emilyjeffri posted a video of themself with the caption: “ok so new bit idea: what if we created a fake 80s horror movie called ‘Zepotha’ and started commenting ‘OMG u look exactly like that one girl from Zepotha’ or ‘wait u look exactly like ______ from Zepotha’”. Jeffri then went on to say that “new lore would develop” and “main characters will emerge” in the process of convincing thousands the film actually exists.

From here, the word “Zepotha” started appearing in countless comment sections. There’s a Zepotha filter that tells you which non-existent character you are from the film (I’m such a Maxine), old-school Zepotha VHS montages, its own page on, and even a trailer for the 2023 remake, put together by Hayley Kalil for her six million TikTok followers.

@emilyjeffri tell me im wrongggg??? idk, this song has always given me that vibe ever since i finished it. its called ‘DO YOU REMEMBER ME???’ & it drops august 25th as a part of my debut album ‘SOUNDTRACK FOR AN 80’S HORROR MOVIE’!! pre-save link in my bioooo :) ily <3 #80s #nostalgia #horrormovie #horror #80shorror #newmusic #lgbtq #lgbt #queerartist #editaudio #spooky #daydreaming #chasescene #nightaesthetic #latenightdrives ♬ DO YOU REMEMBER ME - jeffri

What’s more, if you search the word “Zepotha” on the fanfic site Archive of Our Own, over 100 results appear. Most of the stories on the site tagged “Zepotha” come with content warnings like ‘graphic depictions of violence’ and ‘major character death’, so read them at your own peril.

Jeffri, the user who posted the original “Zepotha” troll, continued on as if the film was actually real. “I used to LOVE Zepotha when I was younger”, they said in another follow-up video, “how am I ONLY JUST finding out there was a SECOND MOVIE??”

Many have pointed out that Jeffri has an album coming out on August 25 called SOUNDTRACK FOR AN 80’S HORROR MOVIE, and the sound in the original TikTok was a song from the upcoming album. Although the “Zepotha” movie was imagined by Jeffri to drum up interest in their new record, it’s unlikely they could’ve predicted that the marketing ploy would’ve blown up to this extent.

In response to the influx of content creation stemming from this non-existent film, Jeffri then posted a short film competition to their Instagram. “Time for you, the REAL creative geniuses behind all of this, to bring Zepotha to life in your own short movies,” they wrote, adding that the winner of this competition “will receive £500”.

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