By now you’re probably familiar with the Mandela effect, or the phenomenon of people collectively misremembering historical events and pop cultural moments. The latest Mandela effect to take over TikTok is an ’80s horror movie called Zepotha, which was either a standalone film, part of a trilogy, or is getting a remake in 2024 — depending on who you ask. But before you spend hours trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, you should know Zepotha isn’t a real movie at all. That’s right, TikTokers created the entirely fictional film via vague comments and cleverly convincing videos to trick people into thinking it actually happened. So if you keep seeing Zepotha theories and references on TikTok, here’s why.
Cult-classic horror stans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this forgotten ’80s picture didn’t pass them by. TikTok users were introduced to Zepotha on Aug. 11 by user @emilyjeffri, who organized the spread of the fake Mandela effect by encouraging others to leave comments like “omg u look exactly like that one girl from Zepotha” on random videos as a way to “witness new lore develop,” create backstories for nonexistent main characters, and “convince thousands of people that this weirdly titled 80s horror film actually exists.”
The video has over 1.4 million likes and 8.1 million views as of Aug. 21, so it wasn’t long before the Zepotha content began flooding comments sections and taking over the FYP. By developing character breakdowns and recreating scenes that don’t even exist, TikTokers managed to organically create Zepotha lore out of thin air, just like @emilyjeffri wanted.
Of course, users who weren’t in on the joke began to take notice, which led to a lot of confusion on the platform. Creator @spencewuah’s comments were bombarded with replies comparing them to Greg from Zepotha, which obviously left the TikToker scratching their head. They were not pleased when they found out what was actually going on.
Featured in the original video is a song called “DO YOU REMEMBER ME,” which the creator included because they thought it gave off “Zepotha vibes.” If you look closely, the song is attributed to an artist named jeffri — the same name used in the TikToker’s handle. If you haven’t caught on by now, it seems as though @emilyjeffri developed the fake Zepotha craze as a way to promote their music, and considering the full soundtrack is slated to be released on Aug. 25, it looks like it worked.
A creator for @nogood.io explained that the song’s faux marketing scheme was such a success because the artist was able to sell “entertainment as a highly involved game of sorts to get people to interact with it, using the song as a subplot.” If “DO YOU REMEMBER ME” had just been promoted as a song that would’ve sounded great in an ’80s slasher movie, it may not have been as effective.
Zepotha might not be a real ’80s movie, but that doesn’t mean the film won’t ever see the light of day. If the 2021 Ratatouille musical taught us anything, it’s that no one commits to the bit better than TikTokers.