Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later is a seminal film in the horror and zombie genre for many reasons among which are the themes it examines. It provides subtle yet candid commentary on issues such as survival and human altruism. As we learn more about each character in the film, we realize they each have their own definition of what it means to survive. Survival literally means “the state or fact of continuing to live or exist.” For Selena, this means constantly adapting to the environment and killing anyone necessary, even if it is a friend. Her no-nonsense approach means she does not care if she has to leave survivors and the uninfected behind if they are going to slow her down. Jim however seems to believe survival means that no one should be left behind, even if it means being slowed down. The stark contrast between the two characters meaning of survival highlights how differently each of us interpret such a basic instinct.
Perhaps staying alive is not necessarily just about breathing and walking, but staying alive in the sense that human beings need each other to feel alive. As we see later in the movie, Selena begins to feel empathy for Hannah and her father. She could have abandoned them in the underground tunnel like she did Mark earlier in the film, yet she chose to stay. Although we see the characters in the film begin to feel empathy for one another and help each other out, the same cannot be said for the countries around the world. Presumably, there must be some countries not affected by the outbreak, yet we never see a concerted effort by any of them to come to the aid of London. This ultimately begs the question, are we all as humans naturally altruistic or instinctively selfish?