Ahhh, the joys of renting an apartment. Regardless of how much you research, plan, or review the property, there are always bound to be some unpleasant surprises. A leaky sink. A creaky door. In the case of my last apartment, a massive mildew problem rendering the space nearly uninhabitable. However it seems that a TikTok-er by the name of Samantha Hartsoe has all of our apartment horror stories beat -- earlier this week, she unearthed an alarming discovery in her New York City pad, putting Lewis Carroll and Parasite's Bong Joon Ho to shame: An entire abandoned apartment hidden behind her bathroom mirror.
Upon returning to her three-bedroom Roosevelt Island apartment, which she shares with two roommates, following a hiking trip last weekend, Hartsoe noticed her bathroom was chilly ... a little too chilly. "It was weird, because I don’t have a vent that I know of in there that blows cold air," she told urban design publication, Curbed of her initial suspicions. After scouring the room for a possible source for the draft, she found the chilly culprit -- her bathroom mirror. "I realized that it’s not connected to the wall, which seems a little strange. Sometimes mirrors are only, like, hanging … but the cold air was a little bit suspect." Following her hunch, she then removed the mirror to find not only a gaping hole in her wall, but an entire abandoned apartment sitting seemingly untouched.
Naturally, the 26-year-old did what most zillennials would do when faced with a mysterious portal lurking above their bathroom sink -- document the entire affair in the form of a nightmare-inducing four-part TikTok series. Although the first installment documents the events leading up to Hartsoe's mildly horrifying discovery ...
... with the second documenting the alarming reveal and her friend's concerned reactions ...
... in the third episode, she goes where no New Yorker has ventured before -- except, perhaps her landlord -- through the looking glass and into the adjacent apartment. Equipped with a heavy-duty mask, a flashlight attached to her head via a chevron hairband, and a hammer to bash any potential murderers lurking about, Hartsoe ventured forth, clearly having never seen a horror movie. Although dangerous enough to warrant a TikTok safety warning, urging teens to avoid climbing through mirror-sized apartment portals in their homes, the stakes were even higher behind the scenes. "I have to find my way out of here," she explained to Curbed of her thoughts while in the mysterious flat. "I have to go back through that hole, which is pretty much impossible, or I have to find the exit of this place, which means I have to, at this point, explore it all."
Dark and notably freezing, the apartment was mostly empty, filled with trash, an random toilet, and a water bottle. "Okay, so there's signs of life," she mused, wandering through the unit. "Wow, this is a whole other apartment."
After wandering through the creepy, debris-filled space, Hartsoe finally stumbled across a door, revealing a convoluted escape route through her building. She wisely locked it behind her. "My landlord is getting a really fun phone call tomorrow!" she quipped, hanging the mirror back up on its hollow perch.
Compared to her terrifying initial expectations, the venture was arguably a success. "I was kind of expecting there to be somebody, especially with the water bottle being there," she later said of her time in the NYC-equivalent of the Upside Down. "And that definitely put me on edge." Although she says the building management is somehow unsure of what the deal is with the empty apartment, planning on inspecting the eerie space for themselves, Hartsoe has her own theories of what's going on.
"I'm not sure if it was being renovated or if it is empty," she explained. "It's really old, and nobody’s been in there a while. The shower-bathroom area is all piping -- there's no actual bathtub or toilet. The floor, and what I think would be the kitchen, was ripped up."
So folks, remember, when moving into a new apartment, always check behind your mirror for a secret, drafty apartment -- lest you risk a hefty rent increase for several uninhabitable bedrooms. The wonderful world of real estate, folks!