In the bathroom of a New York City apartment, a woman is removing a mirror from the wall. She is convinced that it conceals a grim secret. But instead of running for cover, Samantha Hartsoe is going to step into the unknown. There’s a noise, but it’s her roommate giving her moral support. But he’s not coming along. After all, what could lie beyond the mirror?
The millennial New Yorker was not alone, though, when she went behind the mirror. No, she shared the experience with an audience of millions on TikTok. And those followers joined the brave adventurer when she went through the hole in her wall to discover what lay behind it.
The intrepid explorer’s quest to discover why a chilly draft was entering her bathroom had led her to dive into the dark. There was a freezing space that had been concealed by a simple mirror, and she had to confront a haunting truth. Beyond the glass was not a bathroom wall at all.
When Hartsoe removed the mirror in her apartment on a March 2021 morning, she quickly discovered that it was not backed by paint and plaster. Instead, there was a big square hatchway into the unknown! And when Hartsoe peered through the hole, she was stunned – and more than a little scared – by what stood before her.
As we mentioned earlier, Hartsoe captured her experience voyaging into the creepy space behind her mirror on video. And she placed a series of short films on TikTok, where they quickly went viral. The story begins with Hartsoe noticing that there’s something of a draft in the bathroom which is blowing the hair on her head.
There was no reason why Hartsoe’s bathroom should be chilly. So, what was going on? She described her return from a trip to do some walking to New York magazine’s Curbed section in March 2021. The young woman said, “It was weird, because I don’t have a vent that I know of in there that blows cold air.”
Hartsoe hunted around the bathroom to find where the cold air was coming from. And the intrepid New Yorker found the culprit: it was a mirror that hung above the sink. She said, “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.”
At first, it seemed as though Hartsoe had stumbled over nothing more than a niche cut into the wall – the kind of thing that might once have housed a cabinet for medicines. But there was no back to it, and she came across an eerie sight after poking her head through.
It’s no surprise that Hartsoe’s mind went to the movie Candyman. You might remember it: in the film, if you call out the eponymous name several times when looking into a mirror, a boogeyman appears. So, had the New Yorker perhaps found the doorway to the lair of an evil spirit?
At first, it was too dark to see anything clearly through the hole. But it could be a secret room. Or it may be a cubbyhole that someone used to spy on bathroom users through. What a chilling thought! Could Hartsoe have been showering with company all this time? Or was it something even more horrible?
Well, the young woman was not going to wait around. She said to TV station NBC New York, “Curiosity killed the cat; curiosity is going to kill me.” It sounds like Hartsoe might have been tempting fate, but she continued, “I can’t not know what’s on the other side of my bathroom.”
Let’s step back from the hole and ask whether there was anything peculiar about the apartment. Well, it seemed to be a standard three-bed place, which Hartsoe rented alongside two friends. It’s in a peculiar setting: on Roosevelt Island – a sliver of land that lies in the East River between Manhattan and Queens.
It’s a cozy little place and the kind of area where you can get to know your neighbors: a novelty for NYC. But it’s an up-and-coming spot – boosted by a fresh site for Cornell Tech and lots of new buildings. Towers are springing up across the island, and Amazon’s new HQ won’t be too far away.
Roosevelt Island is part of the borough of Manhattan, though it has its own corporation to run the amenities. And chief among those facilities is the waste system. It collects refuse using tubes that run underground. It might interest you to know that the only similar facility can be found in Disneyworld, according to the website Brick Underground.
But the island hasn’t always been home to friendly residents. Once upon a time, it housed hospitals – including one specifically for smallpox patients – and a prison. There was also the questionably named New York City Lunatic Asylum, too.
Anyway, Hartsoe had built up enough courage to finally enter the hole in her bathroom. And this was despite the entreaties of John, one of her roommates. Apparently, he begged her to reconsider what he thought might be a dangerous journey into the unknown!
Nothing would stop the intrepid young woman, though. In the video, Hartsoe is seen donning a mask for her face and using a hairband fashioned a headlamp with a flashlight. The TikTok user then grabs a hammer. Well, Hartsoe was brave, but she wasn’t going into what might be the Candyman’s hidey hole without a weapon to hand!
John the roommate has some well-meant advice when he sees what she’s brandishing as personal protection. In the video clip, he says, “Mean it when you swing it.” Clearly, he believed that she was on a foolhardy mission that would end badly!
The video itself carries a disclaimer that leaping through dark holes into spaces that you can’t see “could result in serious injury.” But with the words of John echoing in her ears – “If you smell something dying…” – the courageous young lady flings herself through the hole and safely onto her feet on the other side.
The first thing Hartsoe realizes is that she will be stuck this side of the hole. The woman has dropped some distance, and now she would never be able to climb back up. So, Hartsoe recalled to Curbed that she had thought, “I have to find my way out of here.” And maybe that would be in a hurry, too!
Hartsoe was committed to exploration, though. As she put it to Curbed, “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.” And it seemed that there was quite a lot to see.
The TikTok clip shows Hartsoe climbing back through the hole, and she adds, “There’s a room back here.” Although the woman can only see by flashlight, it seems that there is indeed a large space. In it is an unused sofa, a lavatory that was also abandoned and a few bags of trash.
As Hartsoe hunts around, she discovers that there isn’t just the one room. She has found an entire apartment – equally as big as her own – hidden behind the bathroom mirror! The housing unit had windows that were wide open, so the mystery of the draft was resolved. But another mystery loomed: was there someone living here? After all, she found a bottle that had once contained water…
So, had someone had been in this mysterious place recently? In comments on her TikTok, those watching seemed torn. Some suggested that she keep looking, while others wanted her to take care. Who knew what lurked in the apartment? Many users were also worried about the gap between the videos. Would there even be another one?
And Hartsoe herself shared their concern, saying on TikTok, “I was kind of expecting there to be somebody – especially with the water bottle being there. And that definitely put me on edge.” A viewer agreed, posting, “That’s suspicious, especially the trash bags and water.” The explorer was not the only person expressing concern on the video, though.
No, viewers can hear John’s voice coming through the hole. He says, “What if there is someone living there right now?” And he mentions the film Parasite. In that movie, a man hides in a secluded room that none of the family whose home it’s in knows is there.
But not even the fear of stumbling across a scary hideaway can stop Hartsoe, who continues to look around the flat. And as she does, she becomes aware that no one could be living in it. The apartment is bare apart from the furniture that she’s already seen, and there are no further signs that anyone was or ever had been there.
Hartsoe told Curbed, “I’m not sure if it was being renovated or if it is empty. 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.”
Luckily for Hartsoe, she is able to discover a way out. But it is clear that this wasn’t just the apartment next to her place. When she leaves, she finds herself in a corridor somewhere else in the apartment block. And that gives her quite a journey to get back home.
Safe back in her apartment, Hartsoe completes her TikToks by noting, “Made it out alive. My landlord will be getting a fun phone call tomorrow.” And the explorer is clear that there would be no repeat journey. She’ll be fixing the mirror into place using cement! Well, it wouldn’t hurt just in case there was someone or something lurking in there.
So all’s well that ends well, and Hartsoe wasn’t too badly affected by the experience. She noted to Curbed, “I felt better sleeping there that night than I should have any other night.” Mind you, she wasn’t spending a great deal of time fixing her makeup in front of the bathroom mirror!
The viewers loved her videos – flocking to watch and share them. At the time of writing, more than a million viewers have liked the TikToks, and she has plenty of fans. One of them even shared some high praise for the New Yorker, writing about her, “This is the bravest woman I’ve ever seen.” But others had less flattering things to say.
Some of the viewers suggested that they wouldn’t want to live in a place where they didn’t know that there was a hidden way in. Who knows who could have sneaked through? Yet some thought that Hartsoe could perhaps be putting that extra space to some use. After all, it was a whole other apartment that nobody seemingly knew about!
One commenter put it to Hartsoe, “As a New Yorker, my first thought was, ‘Wow, extra storage space.’” Another was blunt about keeping the discovery to herself, noting, “Girl don’t say anything, you just got a second apartment.” Though others had a much more cautious approach to the spooky space.
One commenter suggested, “The fact that the door was unlocked and there was a very recent brand water bottle instantly makes me think of a spying situation. That’s just my anxiety talking!” Yet they weren’t the only person who felt anxious. Another thought Hartsoe could sprinkle some flour on the floor to capture any footprints and reveal a potential peeper.
Hartsoe’s not the only American to discover that there was more to their home than they’d thought. Redditor Mr. Griff went into his attic and found more than he bargained for. Yes, there was a whole extra home up there! It even still had the wallpaper hanging on the walls, even though it was a little worse for wear.
And in another case, a bunch of students from Ohio State University had the eerie feeling that they were being haunted. According to The Sun newspaper, they kept discovering that cupboards had been opened, and there were strange noises in the house. When the group searched behind a door that was believed to leave nowhere but a cupboard, they found something unexpected.
It was a room, and it housed a bed, photographs and textbooks. Yes, the students had a roommate that they hadn’t known about! His name, it turned out, was Jeremy. So the bad news for the latter was that they had “evicted” him. With a quick change of locks, his squatting days were over.
Another spooky sight awaited a couple of buyers who were checking out a house in the United States. They discovered something they were not expecting at all in the basement, according to The Sun. It was a room that had previously housed someone called “Joshua.” That was weird enough, but there were strange messages inscribed on the walls, too!
The writings included, “No watching Isaiah through the hole” and, strangely, “No writing or drawing on the walls.” Another apparently demanded, “Stop watching me.” All of this would have been bad enough, but there were also holes drilled into the stairway, which would allow anyone in “Joshua’s room” to spy on people walking up and down. Ugh.