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The hype for a fake movie, 'Zepotha,' goes viral on Tiktok

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Folks on social media are hyping up a cult classic horror movie from the '80s. But here's the catch - the movie, it doesn't exist.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's called "Zepotha." And it is the brainchild of an 18-year-old musician from Oxford, England, named Emily Jeffri. Just a few nights ago, she made a post on TikTok that said, what if we created a fake '80s horror movie called "Zepotha?"

FADEL: She challenged her followers to comment about it everywhere they could to make people think it was a real film. Why, you ask? Jeffri says it started as a way to spread her music.

EMILY JEFFRI: My music is heavily '80s inspired, heavily inspired by, like, the kind of horror genre, I suppose. And so, like, I've always made links to, like, my songs belonging in chase scenes and things like that.

(SOUNDBITE OF EMILY JEFFRI SONG, "WHERE ARE THEY NOW???")

MARTIN: Jeffri says she can even picture how "Zepotha" would end, and she has the perfect song in mind.

JEFFRI: It'd be, like, the villain. Oh, my God, it'd be the villain showing up at the end and, like, looking up at the camera after you think that they've, like, died. And then the end credits would roll, and it would be so cool. And then the song plays out as the credits are rolling. That's totally what it would be.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO YOU REMEMBER ME???")

JEFFRI: (Singing) Oh, do you remember me?

FADEL: The TikTok that revealed this song and started the "Zepotha" trend has over 7 million views. Emily Jeffri says the fan response to the concept of "Zepotha" has been mind-blowing.

JEFFRI: There's fan fiction. There's, like, movie posters, cosplays as well. People are dressing up as the characters. It's such a cool way that people are expressing themselves at the moment, and I love it.

MARTIN: Ana Diaz is a culture writer for Polygon. She says the community forming around the fake movie "Zepotha" is not that different from fandoms of real movies.

ANA DIAZ: Co-creation is a deeply fulfilling experience. People want to contribute to something that's larger than themselves. And there's something really exhilarating about seeing others interact with it and build on it.

FADEL: For her part, Emily Jeffri is content to let the "Zepotha" community decide what comes next.

JEFFRI: I don't want to just take "Zepotha" and then decide exactly what it's about and what it is and take that away from all of these really creative, amazing people. Like, I only came up with the name, and everyone else has done everything else.

FADEL: That's Emily Jeffri, creator of "Zepotha," the film not coming to a theater near you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOLUS")

JEFFRI: (Singing) You glare at me, pretend to be... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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